The Conscious, Subconscious, and Unconscious Mind - How Does It All Work?

The Conscious, Subconscious, and Unconscious Mind - How Does It All Work?

Do you know what is the most sophisticated and incredible machine on this planet? It’s mind. If you use it without becoming a slave to it, there is no limit to the heights you can reach. A very few people are aware of this fact. Here’s the article on the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious mind which will make you aware of the true power of your mind. Let’s start with the origin and concept of the trinity of mind.

The Trinity of Mind (The Conscious, Subconscious, and Unconscious Mind)

The Trinity of Mind (The Conscious, Subconscious, and Unconscious Mind)

Theoretical resources say that Sigmund Freud, the famous Austrian psychologist was probably the first to categorize the mind into three layers based on their unique natures and functions. But on digging deeper, I found that yogic system was actually the first in classifying the mind.

The yogic system looked at the mind as four parts. They further broke it into sixteen parts and that was further broken and they’ve taken it up to 84,000 parts. I was really stunned after knowing this. However, we’ll look at the four fundamental parts.

The fundamental four categories are Buddhi, Ahankara, Manas, and Chitta. Buddhi is the intellect, Ahankara is the part that gives the sense of identity, Manas means memory, and Chitta indicates the higher self (cosmic intelligence).

On the other hand, Freud classifies the mind into the conscious mind, subconscious mind, and unconscious mind. This is known as “The Trinity of Mind”. The yogic way of perception of mind is very deep and complex and we can never match it with Freud’s theory. But on the basis of classification, there’s no much difference between their views. Buddhi denotes the conscious mind, Ahankara signifies the subconscious mind and Manas along with Chitta represents the unconscious mind. Now, let's take a look at each dimension of mind in brief.

The Conscious Mind

The conscious mind is our objective or thinking mind. It does not have non-volatile (long-term) memory, and it can only hold one thought at a time. It can do the logical thinking and critical thinking.

The conscious mind is our processor which has ALU (Arithmetic and Logic Unit), CU (control unit) and some memory (similar to registers). The sense organs - eye, ear, nose, tongue, and skin - are the input devices. The organs for locomotion (legs), dexterity (hands), speech (mouth), excretion and reproduction are the output devices.

Our conscious mind accepts input through any of the sense organs, processes it and finally gives the output through any of the organs of action. Now, let’s take a look at the roles of our conscious mind in our daily life.

1. It’s A Doer

Our conscious mind does all the basic things for us. It communicates to the outside world and the inner self through thoughts, speech, and actions.

It is responsible for four important functions - awareness, comparison, analysis and decision making. Even though our conscious mind is capable of all these four functions, it can’t do comparison and analysis independently. It needs the aid of subconscious mind for that. For doing comparison and analysis, the conscious mind requires the database of past experiences which the subconscious mind holds.

For instance, what will you do to order food in a restaurant? You will raise your hand up and open mouth to speak to convey the message. Awareness is enough for doing this. But while choosing the food from the menu card, you will need the knowledge of taste of each food. Your conscious mind will contact the subconscious mind for this data. Your mind will now rank the foods accordingly (as per your liking). Finally, your conscious mind arrives at the decision.

After making the decision, your conscious mind needs language to communicate it to the waiter. Since your language is stored in the subconscious mind, your conscious mind conveys this instantly to subconscious mind which will make you speak.

All these things happen with your conscious control.

2. It’s A Thinker

Our conscious mind is a huge thought factory. The average human thinks approximately 60,000 thoughts per day. Only when we engage deeply in any work, we stop producing thoughts. That too depends on the nature of work. Some work involves thinking. Consider Albert Einstein, he always conducted thought experiments in his mind for making remarkable contributions to physics.

So, thinking is the dominant part of the conscious mind. We always engage ourselves in something. We work, learn, seek entertainment and etc. Even if someone makes us sit idle, we’ll be only physically idle and our mind won’t be idle. We will keep thinking about either our unchangeable past or imaginary future. Most of our thoughts are useless and works against us.

Let’s take the fear of public speaking as an example. If you are asked to give a presentation in front of a group of people, what will happen? Even if you’re well prepared, you’ll feel nervous, your palms will sweat, your stomach will tie itself into knots, you will not want to do it. If you’ll not fear, well and good. But 95 out of 100 people, have this anxiety.

Have you realized the reason for your fear? The reason is nothing but you doubt whether you’ll make an impression or not. But that doubt only makes you not to perform well. Isn’t it funny?

We don’t wish to fear, but we fear. This is the result of negative thoughts. We can’t actually consciously control those negative thoughts.

“What? Why don’t I have control over it? Then why did you tell me that conscious mind is the processor that has control unit?” I hope this will be your mind voice. Let me reply.

The processor has the control unit but it is the software that ultimately controls it. So, the software residing in your subconscious mind is the culprit. That software must be reprogrammed such that it does not throws negative thoughts in order to succeed in life. Here's how you can do the reprogramming.

The subconscious mind always will try to keep you in a comfort zone. Whenever you try to do something new, it will keep pushing negative thoughts to your conscious mind to pull you back to comfort zone. So, you'll feel uncomfortable while doing that. But if you do that repeatedly, a new pattern will be formed in the subconscious mind and that task will be no more difficult for you.

You might have now understood that thinking is not an exclusive activity of conscious mind. The vast majority of your thinking efforts goes on subconsciously. Read further to know more about the capabilities of your subconscious mind and the techniques to reprogram it using your conscious mind.

The Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind is our accessible memory. Let's call it RAM (Random Access Memory). It is the storage space where our recent memories reside. It holds frequently needed information, current recurring thoughts, behavior patterns, feelings, and skills. The conscious mind is always in direct contact with the resources of unconscious mind.

The power of our subconscious mind is more than what we think. Our subconscious mind can be used for achieving anything. Here are the abilities of our subconscious mind.

1. It’s Our Working Memory

What does the RAM do? It just keeps the copy of programs and data that are currently in use. Similarly, our subconscious memory keeps the copy of programs (skills) and data (identity) which we use every day.

We can randomly access stuff from subconscious mind with our conscious efforts. For example, we all remember our house address. But are we always aware of it? No. Only when someone asks our address we access it and tell them our address. Thus, subconscious mind supports us for quick recalling.

2. It’s Our Autopilot

The subconscious mind runs our daily life. It prompts us to do our routine work. When we wake up every morning, we brush, we take bath, we go to school or college or job without the need for any reminder. It is the subconscious mind that makes this happen.

3. It’s King Maker

Our subconscious mind keeps our short-term and long-term ambition in memory and drives us towards it. It also decides our success and failure in that ambition.

For example, consider you are going to participate in a competition. If you turn your focus to negative thoughts, your subconscious mind will throw up the feelings, emotions, and memories associated with your past events of failure. It will give you negativity, fear, and anxiety. It will demotivate you. In contrast to that, if you consciously tell yourself and direct your focus to positive thoughts, your subconscious mind will give you motive force and will drive you to success.

The subconscious mind is programmed to throw up both negative feelings and positive feelings as per your focus. You can’t delete negative feelings and emotions from your mind. Because they are necessary for alerting you to critical situations. It’s your duty to not to stick to it always. Don’t turn your focus to negative things unless you’re really in need of it. For example, when you are in a home, if you smell a gas leak, your mind will naturally remind you the potential danger associated with gas leaks. It will prepare you to escape the risk. But if you have negative thinking on your goal that you have to achieve, you won’t achieve it.

That’s why if you have to achieve something, you must make your subconscious mind believe that you have already achieved it. Trust me! What you store in your subconscious mind will become reality one day. If you seed something in your subconscious mind and water it every day, it will sprout and blossom one day. That’s why many philosophers say “Thoughts Shape Your Reality”.

To know more about subconscious mind programming, be sure to read my follow-up post, “How to Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind to Achieve Your Goals”. In it, we’ll see the technique to harness the true power of our subconscious mind.

The Unconscious Mind

The unconscious mind is our Hard Disk (ROM) which is of unlimited space. It is the locus of our implicit knowledge. If you gain control over your unconscious mind, you can control your life. Now, let's see the amazing resources of the unconscious mind.

1. It's the Unsung Hero

Like the Windows C Drive of the computer, part of our unconscious mind contains system software and application software. Here is the classification of unconscious mind software programs.

The Unconscious Mind

The unconscious mind is where our OS (Operating System) is installed. It’s because of this OS, we breathe, we digest food, we circulate oxygen and nutrients to every cell in our body. We can simply say that it is our unconscious mind that makes us live.

It’s our unconscious mind that maintains and updates our immune system. The immune system is the antivirus software of our body. It automatically gets updated, whenever we suffer from a new disease. It’s similar to virus database updating.

Our unconscious mind has what is called a homeostatic impulse. This is the software that keeps our body temperature at 98.6 degrees F. It keeps us breathing regularly and keeps our heart beating at a certain rate. Similarly, we have many other apps preinstalled for our body’s normal functioning.

Just like a brand new computer, the unconscious mind of a baby will have nothing besides OS. But right from the birth, every baby starts learning everything and downloads an enormous amount of data from its surroundings.

Child’s every learning within the age six gets installed as software programs in their unconscious mind. They start learning complex stuff such as mother language, crawling, standing, and advanced activities like running and jumping and completes everything before the age of six. Every child strives to install these complex but basic programs in their mind.

We also program our own personality in our childhood age. Parents too have an important part in this programming.

It’s important to understand that perceptions acquired by any child before the age of six become the fundamental programs that shape its character. So, the child must be in the good environment during this period of learning.

A child’s character depends on the behaviors of people around him, the way he is educated, the environment in which he lives and trauma he faces. Based on all these observations within his age of six, he develops his own software which decides his character. Reprogramming this software program later is very difficult. That’s why it is important to program it sensibly.

In addition to the system software, after we grow up, we download and install some application software to our unconscious mind to make our life easy. This is just like installing Photoshop, MS Office and etc. on our PC.

How do we download and install this application software? Let me illustrate. Consider that you don’t know car driving. What will you do to learn it? Someone will teach you the procedure for driving. This algorithm will be temporarily stored in your subconscious mind. Then you’ll try driving yourself by recalling the algorithm taught to you. You’ll struggle a lot during initial stages. But later, you’ll do it with ease as the result of your practice.

You can do something with ease, only if you do it repeatedly. When you repeatedly start doing something which is stored in your mind in the form of an algorithm, it becomes a skill.

Therefore, one can only teach a procedure for us to do some work. Skill cannot be taught. While we do that repeatedly, we’ll automatically acquire intricate stuff and minute details involved in doing that work and it becomes a skill ultimately. Thus, our unconscious mind converts the algorithm taught to us into a program (software) and installs it to its memory.

Besides software, our unconscious mind stores all of our memories and past experiences. It includes the memories that have been repressed through trauma and those that have simply been consciously forgotten and no longer important to us.

Even though all memories and past experiences reside here, we can’t recall everything. Our subconscious mind keeps the copy of only important happenings which our conscious mind can access.

The unconscious mind communicates with our conscious mind via our subconscious mind. It communicates through feelings, emotions, imagination, sensations, and dreams. Dreams are nothing but the permutation and combination of our past experiences. Since this happens without the active presence of our ALU (while we sleep), there will be no logic in our dreams.

2. It's Our Powerhouse

Although our unconscious mind is the great powerhouse, a large part of its capacity goes unused. True genius within everyone resides here. It is where the untapped talents, life solutions, intuition and etc are present. But they exist as password protected files. The password for accessing these files is nothing but meditation.

Yes! Meditation is the key to unlocking your hidden potentials.

If you access the unused part of your mind, you will be able to find excellent solutions to the problems that exist in your life, you will be able to explore your talents and creativity, you will also get intuitions. On the whole, you can find your higher self here.

Remember! If your subconscious mind is kingmaker, your unconscious mind is more than that. Access your subconscious mind to survive great and access your unconscious mind to live great.

Spend at least 10 minutes a day for meditation to access the deeper levels of your mind. Sit down, shut your senses for a while and turn your eyes inward to discover the infinity. The entire cosmos is in you.

Final Words

I hope this article would have made you realize that your mind constructs your life.

Everything you perceive in the physical world has its origin in the imperceptible, inner world of your thoughts and beliefs. To become the master of your destiny, you must learn to control your mind.

Let’s start from today. Get rid of toxic thoughts, plant positive thoughts, rebuild your life and connect with your higher self.


  1. Hi, I am thankful to you for sharing this awesome article with this helpful knowledge.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How to Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind to Achieve Your Goals

How to Fall Asleep Faster