You lie down after a long day, snuggle up into your cozy bed and close your eyes…
How much was the rent again? I wonder how hard my new term will be? I wish I could take back what I said to my colleague today…
Congratulations! You’ve entered the circle of concern, so you can kiss sleeping goodbye now.
You might have heard that our minds can be compared to an iceberg. The small tip above the surface is the conscious mind - the part you’re aware of. The gigantic rest of the berg under the surface, is the subconscious mind. To recap: in comparison, the conscious mind is minuscule and the subconscious mind is enormous.
Putting this into numbers, the conscious mind can process up to 20 thousand bits per second. Our subconscious mind processes 400 billion (400,000,000,000!) bits per second.¹ Is your mind blown as well, because mine sure is. So one would think that our conscious mind is really just the place where the subconscious spews all the information, and the conscious just blindly obeys.
I used to think this way growing up. I thought that we are just the product of our subconscious wiring. Whichever way we were wired by our childhood, past experiences, family and friends, that’s the way we were going to be. I accepted all of my mindsets and thoughts as they were. “I can’t help it, I was wired this way.”
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Sure, the subconscious mind has an enormous effect on our thoughts and behaviour, but scientists have come to understand that it’s the other way around - we can consciously rewire our thinking! Our conscious mind has the power of changing our thinking, mindsets and chemical stability in the long run. The thoughts you choose to entertain, grow.
I’d like to introduce a simple principle with which to start empowering your thinking. All of your thoughts can be categorized into two circles: the circle of concern and the circle of influence.
The circle of concern is exhausting. It’s the place you often spend your time in before going to bed. It is the domain of the thoughts that you have very little power to influence, such as past mistakes, the bad things that are happening in this world, the weather - the list goes on. Focusing on the circle of concern makes you negative and cynical. It saps your energy and joy in life. It leaves you stressed and powerless.
But worry not. As we’ve established, we’re actually capable of changing our focus by using our conscious mind. Decide to reside in the circle of influence. When you choose to focus on the things you’re capable of changing, you enter the circle of influence. It’s focusing on the things you can actually start breaking into steps and accomplish. It will require energy at first, but will soon become a habit.
You are not a slave of your subconscious mind. You’re not at the mercy of your past. When you feel negative, and feel like you’re dwelling in things you cannot change, shift your mind onto the things you can influence. They sometimes look like smaller steps, but rest assured, the steps will push you forward. You will start radiating as you become proactive. You’ll have a surplus of energy, as you no longer waste it on the dark abyss of concern.
Now you’re ready to start having some good nights’ sleep!
1. Leaf, Caroline. Who switched off my brain? Controlling toxic thoughts and emotions. Dallas, TX: Switch On Your Brain, 2008.