Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” describes how we, as human beings, “thin-slice” a topic in order to make a quick decision. We sift through a great deal of information in a split second based on information that we aren’t even aware that we know, stored by our subconscious minds. It could be psychic abilities (we are talking about magick and I do believe in such things,) or it could be that we have stored more information than we think we have. So, a split second decision can be as effective as, or even more effective than, a decision made after careful analysis. However, the disadvantage of this human trait is that sometimes we pick up subconscious beliefs that we don’t really want, like prejudices.
When I started promoting myself and my skills in order to promote the classes I teach at my metaphysical shop, I realized that I had promoted my class on Herbalism more effectively than many of my other classes because I had an outstanding turnout for it. I tried to figure out why. Rather than focusing on what I had done wrong in the other classes, I focused on what I had done right with this one.
What I realized was that I believed fully in myself and my level of knowledge on Herbalism, because I had taken a year-long course on the subject from an accredited herbal college. That meant that by comparison, I did not completely believe in myself and my knowledge in the other topics I had instructed.
But, I have been a Witch for about 30 years! So what a ridiculous thing to think! And I realized then that I had the following subconscious belief:
One year of formal instruction is better than even 30 years of practical experience.
Isn’t that the silliest thing you have ever heard?
Where did I get this idea? I think it may have come from my parents, who put great emphasis on going to school and getting a formal education. Because I chose not to continue with university after high school graduation they never seemed to regard anything else I had ever done as anything but an amusing hobby. I was urged to “get a career to the pay the bills,” and such ephemeral pursuits as writing and music were dismissed as career options. Furthermore, my father worked for a company for the entirety of my life growing up, and it was never anything more than what he did to pay the bills in his, or my mom’s, mind. I had, without realizing it, absorbed their attitude. The recognition of this subconscious belief, in this case, was enough. I knew that consciously I didn’t believe such a thing, and so I was able to get over it and promote the work I had done more effectively, because I now accepted that after 30 years, I should (and do) have some idea of what I’m talking about!
Let me share with you some exercises that helped me to process and overcome these sorts of harmful blocks.
Affirmations, Not Negations
Trying to counteract a previous belief is not effective. Your subconscious mind does not understand negations. It does not compute the word “not.” So, if you tell someone who believes, for example, that she is overweight, that she is not fat, it will not sink in, especially if this body-image is a core belief absorbed from childhood. But, if you tell her, over and over again, that she is beautiful, that her dress emphasizes her figure and her lovely curves, that you noticed how good she looks this morning and did she change her hair or get a spa treatment, then she will start to absorb it and believe it (take note, gentlemen and ladies who love ladies; many women come to their adult life with body-image issues).
So, how can magick that focuses on a negation be entirely effective? Simply, it can’t. You have to find a way to turn a negative into a positive.
Exercise 9: The Art of Affirmation
The secret to your subconscious mind is that it believes anything you tell it, and it doesn’t hear or understand tone. So the way to program your subconscious mind is to repeat something over and over again until it becomes ingrained. The way to your superconscious, which is how you can access your divine co-creation powers, is through your subconscious. Hence, the art of affirmation.
An affirmation is a positive statement that you make to yourself in order to fix an idea in your mind. You repeat it until you believe it. When you believe it, you make it happen around you, almost by accident.
Create a statement that is the opposite of the belief you would like to counteract, but NOT in a way that emphasizes the original statement! If you do that, you will simply be reinforcing the statement you are trying to overcome.
For example, let’s take that original belief that I had:
One year of formal instruction is better than 20 years of practical experience.
In order to counteract this, I would create the following statement instead:
My 20 years of experience in Wicca qualifies me as an expert in my field.
Notice that I did not say, “20 years of experience is equal to or superior to formal study.” That would just negate the previous belief, and that doesn’t work! This is an important lesson.