It's Personal - Unearthing Subconscious Beliefs (part 1)Published January 27, 2022 by Sheila Anne Murray
I was standing beside a picnic table in the woods and I was mortified.
It was a warm summer morning and I, along with my fellow Brownie Girl Scouts, had recently left our cabins to begin our day. Why was I mortified? Because one of the chaperone moms had just responded to my question by singing “If I only had a brain!” You know.. like the song the scarecrow sings in the Wizard of Oz.
I cannot recall what my question was. Many of the details from that morning are lost to me, but the feelings are still very much alive: shame; small; called out. Those few seemingly simple words instilled a belief in me that I was incompetent, and I dedicated myself to proving it wrong in the 20 years that followed.
Subconscious beliefs are invasive and destructive
I became curious about my subconscious when I started down the path of coaching. Through my research I discovered that our deepest subconscious beliefs are shaped by our experiences from roughly ages 0 - 7. Can you believe that? 0 - 7! Though we continue to accumulate beliefs afterwards, we will favor evidence that confirms what our subconscious already believes. This means that no matter how much mindset work you do in the present, the same belief will continue to pop up unless you get to the underlying story, which likely occurred during early childhood.
Let’s look at this with a gardening metaphor. Imagine that you find a weed in your garden, so you take out some scissors and chop off the top so you don’t have to see it anymore. The weed is still there, and it will continue to consume the nutrients and space around it and dig its roots deeper. What you really have to do is get right down into the root and intentionally pull it out of your garden. Though you were not the one to plant a weed in the first place, it’s your responsibility to uproot it.
The problem with subconscious beliefs that have gone unidentified and unhealed? They run rampant and keep us from bringing our best selves into our personal and professional lives. When we stay small, act from a place of protection, or overcompensate, we are unable to take the leaps that our empowered self so desperately wants us to.
Subconscious beliefs change how we see ourselves
In my case, I had a story around: “I am not seen as competent,” through my school days and into my corporate career. Sometimes it was a whisper and barely there, but the belief would strike hard when I sent an email with a typo, offered the wrong answer, or got even the slightest sense that others were seeing me as inept.
In all my years working on personal and professional growth, I never took the time to understand the underlying story of why I was worried about people seeing me as incompetent. I didn’t know that was the missing link. I knew that I feared incompetence, but I wrote it off as a side effect of my Gallup Strengthsfinder, which listed “Achiever” and “Learner” in my top five. This was short-sighted.
Recently, I started working through an online program that addresses subconscious beliefs and how they impact our ways of being and the lives we create. Within the program, I found a workshop on “Inner Child.” I had never worked with the “inner child” before, but I had heard a lot about it from friends that found transformation in the work. So when I started the “Inner Child” workshop and saw a section titled “Competence,” I had to dive in.
After a few journalling prompts, there was a twenty minute recorded visualization. I pressed play and laid down on the floor of my brightly-lit office. That’s when the buried memory appeared for me - I saw myself as a young girl scout, feeling absolutely mortified that an adult saw me as brainless.
Unearthing subconscious beliefs makes it possible for us to rewrite them
This is not a story about me feeling sad for my younger self. It is impossible for us to protect ourselves against the beliefs that will inevitably enter our subconscious. Rather, this is a story of recognizing what the heck has been motivating me all these years to be perfect and not brainless. Now that I unearthed one of my (many) subconscious stories, I can bring more awareness to my knee jerk reactions and begin to rewrite the belief, stepping further into my best, whole self.If you’re on a journey of personal up-leveling but you keep getting stuck in the same mental traps and ways of being, this is your call to take a peek into the closet so to speak. It’s likely you have subconscious beliefs you haven’t yet unearthed.
To be continued in part two.