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The vast majority of your mental life is subconscious; your subconscious processes are always trying to help preserve you from harm  (Murphy 97). Your subconscious builds your body and maintains all of it’s vital functions; your subconscious is on the job 24/7 and never sleeps (Murphy 97). Your subconscious speaks to you and intuitions, hunches, urges and ideas (Murphy 98).Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could control this powerful force? According to Joseph Murphy, author of The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, you can.

Artists, musicians, and writers tune in to the power of their subconscious mind. Robert Louis Stevenson used to charge his subconscious with the task of developing stories for him while he slept. Mark Twain confided that he never worked in his life – all his humor and great writing were the result of his ability to tap into the inexhaustible reservoir of the subconscious mind (Murphy 98). I would just be happy if I could have my subconscious mow the yard while I catch a few Z’s, but let’s see how this works and how to get the results you want.

(Murphy 106). Others have said that all prayers are answered but sometimes the answer is no. In either case Murphy says that the reasons that a prayer will fail, is either a lack of confidence or too much effort (Murphy 106).

When your subconscious mind accepts an idea it begins executing it, mobilizing the mental and spiritual laws of your deeper mind (Murphy 106-107). Use your subconscious mind negatively and it brings trouble, failure and confusion (Murphy 107). Use it constructively and it brings guidance, freedom and peace of mind (Murphy 107).

But if you try to force your subconscious mind to do something you will fail. The results actually move further away. Your subconscious responds to faith or acceptance in the conscious mind, not mental coercion (Murphy 107). Trying to force your subconscious to generate a result is like trying to get seeds in a field to grow faster by watering them more.

When talking to your subconscious mind you must be very clear about what you want. Imagine getting into a taxi and giving the driver a dozen different directions to a dozen different destinations (Murphy 108). He would be confused and might refuse to take you anywhere. If he’s in New York you’re going to be standing back on the street (okay, I added that one in). Relaxation is the key. The subconscious mind does not work like the conscious mind. Working harder and sheer willpower does not lead to better results. Instead visualize the end and persist in maintaining a simple childlike faith (Murphy 108). The old adage works here, keep it simple stupid.

The first three steps to success in prayer:

  1. Acknowledge or admit the problem (Murphy 110). Denial is not a river in Egypt – get honest with yourself, your subconscious knows when you’re BS’ing yourself.
  2. Turn the problem over to the subconscious mind, which alone knows the most effective solution or way out (Murphy 110).
  3. Rest with a sense of deep conviction that it is done. Give yourself over to its power and say to the conditions and circumstances, “this, too, shall pass,” (Murphy 110).

I used to have really bad test anxiety. I would know the information cold (assuming I actually studied that time) when I went into the room yet when I sat down to take the exam I could barely remember how to spell my name or what today’s date was. Today, as a trainer of several certification exams and an educator I see test anxiety in my students all the time. When I am asked about strategies to overcome test anxiety people are often disappointed in the answer. Remember the scene in Star Wars in the Millennium Falcon and Obi-Wan Kenobi is trying to get Luke Skywalker to “let go of his conscious self and act on instinct.” It is the scene where Obi Wan is trying to teach Luke how to use the Force to wield the light saber so he puts the helmet with an opaque blast shield down over his head, then watches as the trainer droid merrily blasts Luke in the ass with electric energy bolts.

That is how you get over test anxiety. You need to let go of your conscious mind and let your subconscious take over (and if that doesn’t work, try a Taser).

I’ve taken a couple significant certification exams myself in the past few years and each time I was able to let go of the outcome and just let my subconscious take the test. I passed in both cases. Being able to let your subconscious focus on the exam while you focus on ensuring you read the question and the possible answers correctly, is a significant reason your first guess is usually correct. It is only after you start doubting yourself and second-guessing that you reread the question nine times, then you begin to get fearful which narrows your cognitive ability and then you change the answer to the wrong one.

I’m not saying you can ignore studying and just go in there with a blast shield over your face and you’ll somehow pass. You need to let your conscious mind do the studying, then let your conscious mind read the questions, but let your subconscious give you the answers. As I said, many people are disappointed with this advice because they are looking for something that they can control to help them get over the test anxiety, when what they don’t realize is that their anxiety is coming from trying to control too much.

Murphy says that if your mind is focused on the obstacles in obtaining what you desire, then it is no longer concentrating on the means to obtain your desire (113). Remember the movie “An Officer and a Gentlemen?” There is a scene where the female officer candidate, Seeger, played by Lisa Eilbacher, has to get over a huge wall on the obstacle course. Louis Gossett Jr., plays Sergeant Foley, the drill instructor who tells her she has to “Get over that wall, Seeger!” Eventually, she makes it over the wall by using an effective strategy and with the coaching of Richard Gere’s character, Zach Mayo. She finally saw herself climbing over the top rather than hanging like a rag doll on the rope.

Ironically enough, I experienced a similar challenge when I was at Naval Air Station Pensacola. There was an eight-foot wall (without the rope like they had in the movie) and I did not have very good upper body strength at the time. I did not make it over the wall the first time I tried nor several subsequent times. Every time I ran up to it I was only focused on the wall. In my final obstacle course test I found myself not focusing on the wall but focusing on getting over the wall to the other side. My upper body strength had not changed that much in the past weeks yet the mental shift allowed me to get over the wall so easily I wondered why is had been so difficult before. In fact, I felt like the entire time I ran the course I’d been outside of my own head – my subconscious was in control and I was just enjoying the ride. By letting go, I was able to harness the powerful force of the subconscious mind.

Murphy, Joseph, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. New York: Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.

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