One of the questions that I receive the most from people that are starting with subconscious mind programming is: Do subliminal messages work? This is a really interesting question and we are going to discuss it in depth in this post.
In order for you to make an informed decision, I am going to run through what they are, how you use them, the good and bad sides of subliminals. Finally I will give you my opinion on the matter.
So, what are subliminal messages?
The best definition for subliminal messages is that they are signals below the absolute threshold level (ATL) of our conscious awareness. I know, it sounds very technical, but let’s take a look at the definition.
They are signals or in other words messages. Whether visual, auditory or any other sense doesn’t really matter. Those messages fall below the ATL. It means that they are designed to be perceived by the subconscious mind, but not to be identified by the conscious mind. Anything that falls below the ATL is imperceptible to the conscious mind.
Those messages are conceived with the intention of generating a reaction, behaviour or action. In simple terms, to program something into your mind that might not be a common behaviour for you.
What type of subliminal messages can you normally encounter?
Subliminals are used in many different ways across many industries. Not all of its uses have been ethical, which is the reason why the use of subliminal messages in adverts is forbidden in many countries.
Although, according to current research, we have about 37 sensory inputs divided across seven categories: tactile, auditory, visual, taste, smell, balance and body awareness. Most subliminal messages target the visual and auditory categories.
The visual category mostly consists of embeds and subvisuals
- Embeds – normally static images hidden within other images. Even though they are hiding in plain sight, they are not recognized by the conscious brain.
- Subvisuals – those are images that flash so fast within a movie that the viewer is unable to even realize that they were there to start with.
The visual stimuli are the most potent, as visual perception is one of our dominant senses. However, apart from some forms of hypnosis, it is not normally used in self- development.
This category consists of subaudible and backmasking.
- Backmasking – it is playing a message in reverse. It always makes me laugh, cause it reminds me when every punk band in the world was accused of witchcraft, because the whole world decided to play records in reverse.
- Subaudible – those are what we normally call subliminals in self-development. They are messages inserted into a louder audio file, normally music, that are at such low volume that can’t be heard.
Subliminals in self-development
The trend of using subliminals became really popular in the 80s. Thousands upon thousands of subliminal tapes flooded the market. They used subaudible messages to get you to lose weight, gain confidence or find a job.
Now you can find subliminals all over the place. From paid and exclusive programs to free youtube videos all over the internet.
How do they work?
Let’s imagine for a second that you have decided to listen to a weight loss subliminal. You are going about your day where you have 30 mins commuting to work and you decide that you are going to use that time to listen to your subliminals. So what would you be hearing? In most cases, just some music as the message is bypassing your conscious mind.
The subconscious mind, unlike the conscious one, does not require proof. If you say to your subconscious mind “I eat healthy every day, good and nutritious foods”, your subconscious mind will say “yeah! That is what you do” while your conscious mind would have said “Wait! What? Who are you kidding? You are a fast-food addict!”
Bypassing the conscious mind
There are advantages to playing the reprogramming game below the curtain of awareness. I have to say that I am not a big fan of it, but I can clearly see some of the advantages.
As I explained above, the conscious mind doesn’t take your words at face value and can hinder your progress with unnecessary doubt, worry or fear. Going around it is like bypassing a bad manager and going directly to the boss to sort a problem. Seemingly a good idea, but more often than not, it backfires.
The big fans of subliminals would argue that you are involving your conscious mind when you are deciding to listen to the tapes or recordings. Which is true but it has some drawbacks.
The biggest drawback from Subliminals
As working directly with your subconscious mind has evident advantages, bypassing the conscious mind has one main drawback: You are forgetting to deal with the issue.
The subconscious mind is processing about 20K bits of information at the same time. While the conscious mind will do 2 to 7 bits at the time, and yet your conscious mind is the one stirring the wheel.
Your conscious mind can easily override all the work you have done on the subconscious level by thinking constantly in the opposite way. I have seen that many times when it comes to other therapies like hypnosis. It seems to work for a little while but eventually, your conscious thinking that has not been dealt with brings back the old behaviour.
In my opinion, in order to reprogram your subconscious mind both conscious and subconscious should be in agreement and work to resolve the issue together at both levels of awareness.
The other problems with subliminals
This is a small problem, but it is something that has always bothered me when it comes to those tapes. It is the fact that you really never know what the actual messages are. I have enough faith in the professionals behind those types of recordings. However, I yet have never been a fan of not knowing exactly what it is truly being said.
The lines get a bit more blurry when we are talking about free ones that you can find all over the internet. How much trust do you have in the producers of those messages?
This leads me to my last concern with subliminals. In most of the cases, the messages are external to you. The construction is a standard ways to tackle a particular problem like losing weight, but not to YOUR particular problem.
Every mind has its reasons why something is not working for them. In the case of losing weight, for example, it might not be the food you eat. But the fact that you deal with your anxiety by overeating or that you are insulin resistant and being invited to eat fresh fruits and vegetables by your subconscious might not help matters.
In my humble opinion, working on the issue from all angles is a much better solution and it is specific to you, to your needs, wants and desires.
Are subliminals a way to reprogram your subconscious mind? Yes, there is no doubt about it, and they can be effective too. Are they my favourite way to reprogram the subconscious mind? No, in my opinion, it is always better to involve both your conscious and subconscious on the task.
With that being said, you need to make up your own mind about it. I have tried them myself on several occasions with mixed results. Yet my results don’t have to be the same as yours and I am of the opinion that when it comes to self-development, one mould does not necessarily fit everyone and you need to discover what works for you.