I received this question the other day
I am serious about wanting to “reprogram” my subconscious mind so that those silly, self-limiting beliefs hit the road. So far, I’ve found this to be down right tricky since most effort is from the conscious mind…. Do you have any suggestions for tools/techniques that target getting behind the conscious mind – to get at the belief system?
Thanks Katie, this is such a great topic for discussion. Here’s how I see it. Trying to ‘reprogram’ your belief system is a common enough idea. It’s also, as you say, downright tricky. Or, as I like to say, virtually impossible.
Why? Because there’s nothing to reprogram; your program is fine, it’s just got covered over by a few faulty beliefs (because of conditioning and so on).
‘Reprogramming your mind’ is not so much about putting new beliefs over the top of your existing ones, but rather, letting the old ones, gently … fall away.
But I get it. You you hear someone say, -“Your belief system is the cause of your problems.” And then, if you’re like me, your mind does this . . .
The tendency to want to do more, and try harder, is very common. In fact we all do it. It’s a mind thing because the mind loves trying harder. But the idea that we need to try harder and do more is one of the beliefs that make us feel bad!!!
So how do you get behind the conscious mind and change your belief system?
Gently – Not because it’s a delicate situation. But because it’s the most effective way. By doing things like reading these emails. And relaxing. And playing with the idea there’s nothing to achieve here.
And remembering, as much as possible – to accept and dig yourself, no matter what kind of funk you’ve got yourself in: No matter how many ‘negative’ or critical thoughts you have. No matter how confused you feel sometimes.
When a challenging situation happens, like when you feel angry or upset, take a moment to notice your thoughts.
Are you blaming other people for your feelings? Are you judging yourself for your reaction? Are you labeling this as ‘good’ or ‘bad’?
If so, experiment with other words, like “pleasant’ or ‘unpleasant.’ Just notice what’s happening, and know that if you’re upset, the issue is yours. Always is.
Remember – you don’t have to figure it out. It’s perfectly-absolutely-fine to be standing in a puddle of your own tears/fury/frustration and not know why you feel like you do, or how to start feeling better.
I mean, you might know, but if you don’t. It’s totally cool too. This is how you unlearn. In fact, a lot of “unlearning” happens by itself, particularly when you give it some space. And usually, this takes a little time.
The reason why stepping back and noticing how you’re feeling without getting caught up in it is so effective, is you’re taking the power away from something you’ve previously given a lot of power to.
And one day . . . . it will shift.
My intention with this blog, my email newsletter and my 7 Secrets Book (and pretty much everything I do) is to highlight the faulty beliefs, as I see them, that make us feel bad. To facilitate an easy and gentle shift. Let’s continue to do this together over the coming weeks and months!
Lots of Love,
PS: Congratulations Lois and Cata, for winning your own set of Life Cards last week. And thanks so much to everyone who entered and said hi! And if you missed out on winning a deck, I still have a few sets left.
I am just learning all about making space for the unpleasant–instead of my old practice of beating it into submission.
Thanks for writing this helpful post.
I enjoyed reading it (and did so with your charming accent in my head)
Thanks Chesca! I love how you put it – “making space for the unpleasant rather than beating it into submission.” How great.
Thanks so much for saying hi – and my apologies for the tardy reply – I’ve only just noticed your comment – not sure what happened to my automailer thingy that lets me know when people drop by the site:)
I keep finding myself posting links to your articles on our Facebook page (Everyday-Mindfulness) as they keep really hitting the spot for me, so I wanted to let you know how helpful I’m finding your stuff and hopefully all the others who get sent here from our page. Thank you. Please join us at the discussion forum at everyday-mindfulness.com…
I Uunderstand the Article…But i find it SOOoo hard to Not care about outcomes and Lots of what I feel I cant Change. Yes It drives me Nuts. I feel that If I dont Mentally address all thats happenening in my life and in the World….I Have somehow Given up and it is so hard. But I understand the Article. Thanks Lisa..
Oh cool! Thanks for stopping in and saying hi and sharing your site too!!
Just wanted to say I came across your article on “3 reasons to stop worrying about your negative thoughts”…it hit home with me. I’ve been struggling with listening to the negative talk in my head for a coulpe of months. I’ve never dealt with this before but have just had some change in my life that made me feel regret and hopelessness. Now things are coming back around for the better…but every now and then (when I feel stress) I still find myself listening to my inner thoughts. UGH! I’ve read your article and wanted to know how did you figure this all out? Are you a doctor? I know you said you write and paint..but your approach is so well said. It just seems so spelled out clearly and most sites I have gone to (to read for tips and understanding) only make me feel uncomfortable about what I’m dealing with and unable to make me feel better. Actually after reading some articles on websites I feel worse about how I’ve been feeling with little understand as to “why” I suddenly am feeling this way. I Thank you for putting some understanding behind this “thing” that is difficult for me to understand and scary to go through. When you fall into this and wonder why? and can’t figure it out, you feel so alone and lost only making the situation more intense. All I know is I want to get back to the old me and I never want to feel like this again.
Getting stronger everyday- Kerrie
Thanks for your note! And your questions. I really must update my ‘about’ page now I think about it. It is a bit vague isn’t it!
I’m not a doctor but have been fortunate to have spent some time with someone who “knows a lot of shit” – a psychologist, but not an ordinary one. He did most of his training in the East many years ago. And I reckon he’s a bit of a genius when it comes to understanding people. Before that I was unwell for quite a few years. Turned my life upside down after college and forced me to learn about myself. Was totally clueless before then!
Sorry to hear you’ve been going through a rough patch. From my experience you never get back to the “old you” – I spent years trying – only to realize that what’s ahead is so much better. Can be unpleasant at times, I know, but I’ve found it does get easier. And I’m sure you will find some wonderful nuggets that come out of this time.
I am very touched to hear you’re finding some of my article useful. Thanks again for saying hi! And the best of wishes to you. XX Lisa
Hi Lisa 🙂 Just wanted to say Thank You! I enjoy reading your info. I’m working on change and I’m Glad I found your site. It inspires me to keep going forward. Thank you once again!! 🙂
It really is my pleasure:)
Lots of love and warm wishes to you! Lisa XX
Thanks for your post…have you heard of Sydney Banks? A lot of what I read in your posts is very similar to something called ‘the 3 principles’…just wondering who your enlightened psychologist was? Maybe a student of Ramana Maharshi? Its all good whereever it comes from! Anyways…love your posts and wanted to say Hi! Michelle
Funny you should say that. I do know who Sydney Banks is – though I only found his stuff recently. Was a great find too. I think when it comes to the basic spiritual truths, we all end up in the same place. I haven’t heard of Ramana Maharshi, but am now intrigued to find out more – will look him up. Cool to know you’re reading the posts! And thanks for saying hi!! Love L
Lisa mam your thinking teach us how to live
Hi Bhushan, thank you:)
Again Lisa, thank you so much for this wonderful post, you have no idea what an inpact your writing has on me and how helpful it is 🙂
All the best to you!
It really is my pleasure:) Best wishes to you too!!
I really enjoy your thoughts and the pictures – a banana smile – fantastic!! I feel we resonate; a counsellor has said in response to my fears of repeating previous negative behaviour of others towards me, that simply being aware of those thoughts is likely to prevent a repetition in my own behaviour eg abuse. This sounds similar to what you are suggesting. I have wondered why (mind working hard!!! Doh!) even when I replace negative thoughts and old patterns with something more positive, as I become aware of the negative, they still reappear another day – do old ingrained beliefs/values/subconscious behaviours-thoughts need as much time to heal as they’ve existed? At 47 I’ve been ‘working hard’ for maybe 17 years to replace negative victim-like manipulative childhood values that stopped me having confidence in my own self and my decisions as being right for me but everytime those negative critical thoughts popped in I felt I had failed to move on more positively and healthily. I am really valuing your posts in letting my mind just be and being aware of those thoughts yet choosing healthier behaviour moving forward. Thank you . Where was the opportunity to win a set of your life cards? Don’t know how I sadly missed that and I see they are otherwise sold out. Kind blessings, Sophie
This is one of my wonders as well I think…
“Even when I replace negative thoughts and old patterns with something more positive, as I become aware of the negative, they still reappear another day – do old ingrained beliefs/values/subconscious behaviours-thoughts need as much time to heal as they’ve existed?”
It’s a long process about being aware the thoughts are there and even if they create feelings, they weren’t necessarily natural feelings that “should” be defining of you.
Hi Sophie, I don’t know if they take as long to go away as you’ve had them. It feels that way sometimes!
Do you know, I’m having a little blitz on my ‘complaining’ at the moment – I read somewhere that most of us complain a LOT. And I know I do. So I’m trying to not complain as much. But at the same time, I know that it doesn’t matter either way. I’m not unhealthy for complaining, that that’s just where I’m at at the moment. So then it becomes more of a playful thing to do. And all the MANY times I forget, it’s no big deal. Practicing self acceptance is more important than anything. And there’s no better time than when we do things we wish we didn’t!
Thanks for your note. And best wishes to you:)
This entry came at a very good time, Lise. We have written back & forth a few times and thank you for that. I am coming out of a depression/anxiety-ridden time much of which was focused on my relationship. This is the first day I have woken in a long time and smiled. Like you said…”And one day . . . . it will shift.”
I am not focusing too much either way, though, because I am still having to say “ssssh…” to those worries and questions and bombardments waiting to pounce. But…know it’ll get better. When you have those thoughts and such come on yourself, is there anything you say to them/yourself to just calm them?
Hi Pamela, well, I’ve worried about some really little things, so i take the view that while I’m feeling anxious I can’t actually tell if this is something worth worrying about so I’ll just have to wait until it passes to know. Kind of like leaving those thoughts alone as much as I can and then carrying on around them. Does that make sense?
Sometimes I think about the worst case scenario and even if it’s really horrible I usually figure I could survive it. And, the idea, “It doesn’t matter.” That helps too. It’s unpleasant though. No doubt about that.
Great to hear you woke feeling a sense of peace this morning:) Thanks for your note!
PS: Sorry for slow reply, we’re in Australia traveling around and I haven’t been as studious with my email checking!
Pardon the improper spelling of your name LISA!
Ha! I hadn’t noticed:)
Im all ears , I will give feedback after Ive read the book
Thanks for saying hi, Norman:)
Just to let you know how much I look forward to Tuesday’s now and after reading your book I am trying so hard to handle panic attacks and mild depression. I have this thing about driving on my own and panic at the thought of it and now have no confidence but I am determined to get in that car and be rid of that fear. Thanks for being there Lisa.x
Very happy to be here in any way
I can. Go for it! And thanks for taking the time to say hello! I really appreciate it. XX Lisa
hi lisa,just a word of thanks-just stumbled upon a solution to a problem in one of your articles-great advice on how to look at yourself-thanks once again raghu
Well that’s great. Thanks for letting me know Raghu:) And best wishes!
A lot of useful things have been said here (in the article, as well as in the comments) and I felt like adding my two cents too 🙂
A while ago, I read somewhere that you are that what isn’t changing (call this the ‘Observer’, the ‘Higher Self’, ‘Awareness’, Consciousness’, ‘God’, you get the idea….). I guess one consequence of this is that the ‘ego’ is that what is changing. I imaging myself witnessing and co-living everything that’s going on in and around me, without having any fear (anymore) of becoming schizophrenic or darn right crazy 😉 The argument that this would make you uncaring, less ‘warm’, less ‘human’, etc. is not my experience; I would say, the contrary – the need to please others or yourself drops away, simply because you realize that life as we know it, isn’t life at all, but just a construction of the mind (ego). The bigger picture (another concept of the mind, sorry, there’s no way around that, glad-fully) is a mystery and I guess it was meant that way… It’s such a relief not having to know (especially not who your really are) and to be able to let go – realizing that things are ‘really’ not up to you. Weird stuff, I know (at least, the ‘normal’ side of me still knows this, and without it, life would be such a bore too). My advise to people who worry a lot and are searching for a way out of that: know that you are not what you think you are (also not what you feel you are), you just ARE; all the rest just happens (where do thoughts come from? Tests even show that half a second before you decide anything, the part of your brain that’s involved with a particular type of decision-making was already active before ‘you’ were consciously making a decision). We believe something (or ‘decide’ to believe something) and the ‘facts’ and ‘proofs’ to backup that belief will follow – not the other way around. In a nutshell, that’s the ‘theory’ behind my world-view, by lack of a better word. Don’t worry if none of it makes sense to you, sometimes it doesn’t to me either 🙂
All the best to all of you!
Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Ronald!
How do I get a set of your life cards?
Hi Franca! They’re currently out of stock, but you can order them at the link below and I’ll send them when they’ve been reprinted, if you like (6-8 weeks). (Or you can hold off. I”ll email everyone when they’re ready). I”m just doing the artwork for the new look packaging at the moment! Thanks for your interest.
Thanks Lisa – very timely and valuable, and thanks to all the other commenters too!
Thanks Robstar! Well it’s my pleasure. And thanks to you and the other commenters too. Really makes this site so much more fun hearing from others! Have a great day!
Dearest Lisa, thank you soooooo sooo much for your email and thoughts today 🙂 That´s exactly my struggle at the moment. So you spoke right to my heart and soul, and reminding me, that everything that needed a lot time to build up – like negative thinking etc. – always needs time to change again. Sometimes I think that I´ve learned a lot, then experience something or act like I´ve nothing learned at all, that can be so frustrating. But of course it´s part of the process. And sometimes it feels like, that it took so much time and energy to come where I am, and it feels so long away from where I want to get, that I think it´s hopeless. But of course, I only forget sometimes to just let go, accept things as they are, like you´ve said, don´t push and let the energy flow 🙂 Thanks for reminding, your email came just at the right time. Take care Lisa 🙂
I sooo know what you mean. Very well put. Thanks Melanie. You take care too!
Thank you so much, I have a lot of anxiety within because I’m allowing my outside circumstances to have impact on my “inside”. I’m a “type A”, “Doer” and I love the concept of “unlearning”. Of stepping back and relaxing instead of trying to “do”. I can see I have some things to unlearn that will significantly improve the peace in my core. I’ve been following you for awhile, so thankful I found your site. Thank you for the work you’ve done and for sharing it with us! xo
Hi fellow doer! Great to hear you’re enjoying the articles. I really appreciate your stopping by and saying hi! Have a lovely day!
Thank you so much Lisa! I love your articles because they are helping me to learn about myself. What advice do you have for a young woman who feels los\t in this world and does not seem to know herself? 🙁
This is a really great question, Alisa. Deserving of a longer answer and more consideration than i can give it here.
But in short, you know, I think often the times when we’re really really lost, is when we don’t even know it. We think we’re sorted. We’re busy charging down a path because we think we should. or because people told us this was the path. This is how it is for many many people. And for me for a long time.
When we see that we’re a bit lost, or a LOT lost, often the worst is behind us. Sure, it’s confusing. And uncomfortable to feel like we don’t know things. But, kind of more real.
A big hug and best wishes to you. You are further down the path of knowing yourself than you realize, I’m sure. Trust that everything is ok, and that confusion and uncertainty are as important as feeling like you know things.
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Dear Lisa, this is revolutionary, your gentle way of dealing with negative beliefs about myself has greatly interested me. I came across a similar school of thought just recently which suggests we just notice how we feel, without judgement, and without struggling to change it, .I am looking for some wisdom around this topic and I certainly find much wisdom in your articles. I hope to be reading more, and look forward to it.
Yours with love
Thanks Linda:) Yes, gentle is the way out, isn’t it—otherwise we just keep piling on the judgment. Was revolutionary to me when I first saw this too. Thanks so much for saying hi!
I appreciate your intellectual honesty, Lisa and you’re not trying to sound like an intellectual ! I couldn’t agree with you more about the flaws of the positivity movement. It inadvertently pressuries people to think that their negative thoughts/feelings muct be banished from their minds to be “positive” humans. Well, that wipes away the poets, the mystics, the Blues singers and Shakespeare’s canon of tragedies which when a little a bit understood affrms our complex human nature. Yes – balance is what good living feels like and often that balance goes awry…and that’s OK !
Thank you for reminding us of our normality. I’m a teacher I get negative obsessive thoughts/ruminating and your delightful book helps me to practise separating not believing them – but boy can they grab hold of my brittle ego mind/fear body
You’re welcome, Adrian =) And oh we do so need the other side don’t we. We act as if trying to be positive all the time will make us feel more happy, but when we allow the sadness or whatever to come and go, we naturally feel happier. Oh the irony! (What a lovely city you live in. I visited for the first time a year ago. A whirlwind stop, but wonderful. Everyone was so friendly!)
What I want to say Lisa is what my wise mother Julie has been saying since the 1970s : we all need to do as much unlearning as learning. I’m in the “education” business and it’s never offciially stated at our big school..except I dare say in my Literature and Philosophy classes. That’s not meant to be a boast just a comment that I’ve been on this funny weird quest of the soul since I was 15 or 16 years old…and that was one reason I went into teaching…to share that journey with young people. I’d prefer kids to be taught about what Lisa is offering: how the mind is weird and yet wonderful AND NOT SUBJECT SIMPLY TO FATUOUS POSITIVE SELF TALK ( like “have a nice day” ) This might help some which is always good but it leaves out what is really going on in most jumbled human minds..like mine !.
I suspect you speak deeply from experience and communicate with grace and style.
Thanks Lisa for “speaking what we feel not what we ought to say” ( King Lear Shakespeare – greatest play written ? )
Oh you’re so right about the unlearning! Your mother is very wise!