The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind is a spiritual self-help classic, which teaches you how to use visualization and other suggestion techniques to adapt your unconscious behavior in positive ways.
Remember when the internet was new, few people were running online businesses, and everything that had to do with it felt kinda sketchy? That’s what self-help must’ve felt like in the 1960s. The genre has been around for books since the turn of the 20th century, but it only really became popular in the late 80s to early 90s. Much of what came before was booed off the shelf, so to speak.
The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind is one of few exceptions, likely because of two factors. First, the author, Joseph Murphy, was a popular minister of the Church of Divine Science and second, because his book took root in both science and religion. From today’s perspective, the book feels a bit woo-woo, but at the time, it struck the exact right nerve.
That’s why this how-to guide for manipulating your own behavior to get what you want has sold millions of copies and remains popular to this day. Here are 3 lessons to help you tap into the unconscious part of your mind:
- Use visualization as a way to exploit the placebo effect in your favor.
- If you can’t decide between several options, give yourself a night to sleep over it.
- Make a sincere effort to wish well for others, because envy only gets in your own way.
Would you like to steer your behavior in the right direction on autopilot? Who wouldn’t? So let’s see what we can learn!
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Lesson 1: Visualization is a means to use the placebo effect to your advantage.
The central point of the book is that you can use your imagination to suggest ideas to your subconscious to get what you want. If repeated often enough, your mind will then steer your behavior more towards making those ideas a reality, unbeknownst to you. There are many ways you can do this, but most of them can be summarized under the concept of visualization – picturing yourself achieving a certain goal or outcome.
The scientific idea this plays on is called the placebo effect. In medicine, a placebo is a pill without a real, chemical or biological consequence, usually made of sugar. But if patients believe they’re getting strong medication, they might still observe some of the benefits, solely based on this belief. While the effect has been observed in many studies, I wouldn’t call this hard science, because how well it works is very subjective and depends on the individual.
Murphy describes many examples in the book, like an opera singer, who used this technique to overcome his stage fright. Another one is a surgeon in the 1900s, who lowered the mortality rate of his patients by telling them they wouldn’t get an infection. There are also many modern-day examples, like actor Jim Carry, who used visualization to succeed as an actor.
Lesson 2: When in doubt, sleep on it. Often, you can make more confident decisions after a good night’s rest.
Another way you can make use of your subconscious is to simply sleep on things when you have a tough time deciding.
Murphy’s example is a woman, who was offered a job at the opposite coast of the country. It paid twice her current salary, but she was unsure whether to move across the nation for it. As she meditated in the evening, she fell asleep. In the morning, her gut confirmed her initial doubts and she decided not to take the offer. A few months later, she found out the company had gone bankrupt.
Now, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s impossible to know how things might’ve changed if she’d taken the job, but the basic premise is valid. Your subconscious can process information quicker and in different ways than your conscious self. Therefore, letting it do its thing while you sleep can lead to clearer thoughts and a more confident opinion the next day.
Lesson 3: Wish others well, for envy will only prevent you from getting what you want.
While your subconscious can be very useful if steered in the right direction, it can also make you get in your own way.
Murphy shares the story of a salesman, who never seemed to receive any recognition at work. Despite outperforming all of his colleagues, he didn’t rise in the ranks. As it turned out, he suspected his boss to not like him. Therefore, he subconsciously behaved in somewhat hostile ways himself. Once he changed his own attitude, wishing genuine success for his boss, he soon received a promotion.
Many rich people share the belief at the root of this story: if you secretly despise others for having something you want, you’ll make it less likely for yourself to attain that thing. Take wealth, for example. If you think money is the root of all evil and that all millionaires are crooks, how do you think that’ll affect the management of your own finances?
So don’t fall into a victim mindset. The pie isn’t limited. There’s enough to go around for everyone. Stay positive and root for others, so that the universe may root for you.
My personal take-aways For any book that’s over 50 years old, it’s important to consider the context of its time. In this case, the book goes a bit overboard with what we can realistically expect to be possible from visualization. The law of attraction is real, but only works if you do too. That said, with a bit of distance, you can pick up several useful ideas from The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind