How Your Mind Works and Why It's Important To Know – Caroline Ferguson, Mindset Trainer

How Your Mind Works and Why It’s Important To Know

By Caroline Ferguson | Mindset

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If you want to be able to manage your mindset, it helps to understand something about what’s going on inside your head.

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon or neuroscientist to be curious about the contents of your skull. The human brain is the most complex thing in the universe and you get to own one – how amazing is that?

Let me explain some of how it works. (Bear in mind that this is a very simple explanation. The reality is far more complex.)

Imagine you have a computer in your head that controls everything you do:

  • Your brain is the hardware – that’s the physical box. Your brain has all the power connections, wiring, storage, memory and processing power you need to function as a human being.
  • If your brain is the hardware, then your mind is the software. It’s the operating system that gathers, stores and manages information, using the massive processing resources of your brain.

In reality, your brain and your mind are inseparable – they’re part of the same entity and one can’t operate without the other.

Let’s take a quick look at how your brain works.

Your brain contains around 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, that make up your central nervous system. These neurons transmit and receive electrochemical signals, which are basically your thoughts, emotions, actions and the automatic functions of your body.

To put that 100 billion in perspective, 100 billion grains of sand would fill around five million teaspons, or two baths, and would weigh two metric tonnes.

Which is the same as one of these:

huge rhino isolated on whiteBut your brain, despite being packed with 100 billion neurons, only weighs 3 lbs and is about the size of a cauliflower.

Your thoughts are generated by your mind, which as I explained, is like your brain’s software. We don’t understand everything about how it works but your mind has different layers of consciousness.

The Conscious Mind

Scientists believe that your conscious mind makes up less than 10% of the mind’s total operational power. Your conscious mind is responsible for:

  • Gathering data
  • Assessing and processing the data you’re collecting
  • Finding patterns and makes comparisons
  • Making decisions and gives orders
  • Enabling you to respond thoughtfully to situations (rather than reacting in a knee-jerk way)
  • Controlling your short-term memory

When something is in your conscious mind, it’s deliberate and you’re ‘aware’ of it.

The Unconscious Mind

The other 90% of your software is your unconscious mind. It feels inaccessible, because you’re not consciously aware of what goes on in there, but trust me:

Your unconscious mind is immensely powerful.

  • It runs most of the workings of your body – e.g. breathing, digestion, sleeping, heart rate, temperature control – all without you having to lift a finger (and it controls that too).
  • It protects you by trying to maintain the status quo, which is why you sometimes feel uncomfortable when you’re trying to make a change. Your mind wants to steer you back to what is familiar and therefor ‘safe’.
  • It’s the seat of your emotions.
  • It’s where your imagination and creativity stem from.
  • It’s also where your habits are created and maintained – I’ll come back to that in a minute.
  • Your subconscious mind obeys instructions from your conscious mind.
  • It causes you to react automatically when something threatens you – your might run or freeze or as your fight or flight response kicks in.
  • It stores and retrieves longer term memories.

As I mentioned when looking at self talk, your unconscious mind isn’t rational. It doesn’t make judgements and if can’t distinguish between right or wrong, good or bad. Is simply accepts what it is told or shown as the truth, regardless of the veracity of the information. You then automatically think and feel and behave in a way that is consistent with that truth.

So why is it important to understand how your mind works?

Because, ultimately, that knowledge gives you much more control over how to use the combined power of your conscious and unconscious minds to think in a more healthy, flexible, resilient and goal-supporting way.

The benefits include improved self worth, far less emotional upheaval and a much greater ability to achieve what you want in life.

One of the functions of the unconscious mind is to create and maintain habits – and that’s something I’m going to come back to in my next post, when I talk about how your mind forms habits – both good and bad – and how you can use this knowledge to your advantage.

Please comment below if you have any questions and feel free to share this post. I’ll see you tomorrow.

 

About the Author

Caroline is a Mindset Trainer, writer and speaker who works with high-potential, purpose-driven women. She show them how to beat the mindset blocks that are holding them back, such as limiting beliefs, low self worth and procrastination.

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