Involuntary, Unconscious, Subconscious

Involuntary, Unconscious, Subconscious

Involuntary, Unconscious, Subconscious

A friend told me she’d read somewhere that once you’ve learned your driving skills, they become ‘involuntary’; which is why you can ‘miss a few miles’ if your mind drifts to other matters.

Zikes, ‘involuntary’?!  Doesn’t that suggest ‘beyond your control’? That would make you bound to hit a little old lady who steps into the road.  That being the case, why are we allowed to drive at all? Hmm.

You could try substituting ‘unconscious’; but how can you dodge the old lady now, if you’re really unconscious?!  ‘Subconscious’? This word may mean any number of different things depending on the school of thought - so which one?  ‘Autopilot’?  Hmm.

See the problem with which word to pick?  They all describe something all right, but these words get bandied about interchangeably when they just don’t mean the same thing.  

And why does this even matter?  Because you have agency to change, if you use one word, and not with another.  Current research trends, for example (yes, those research folks love their trends too) suggest we are pretty much at the mercy of our ‘subconscious’.   

Scary.  But is it entirely true?  It’s certainly a marvellously convenient ‘get out of jail free’ card that tempts us into defeatism. “I can’t help it, it’s unconscious/subconscious/ involuntary.” 

How about this instead: we learn to do something a certain way, and then simply stop paying attention to how we’re doing it.  That doesn’t mean it’s beyond change; there’s plenty of ‘neuro-plastic’ proof now that we can reroute our thinking and movement patterns.  Once we start paying attention again, choices become apparent.

In a life or death situation it’s amazing how easily people usually manage not to mow down pensioners.  Given a severe diagnosis, they might suddenly find themselves able to stop drinking, or eating poorly, to or start exercising at last. ‘Involuntarily’? No way. ‘Unconsciously’? Hardly. ‘Subconsciously’? Seems implausible, having just ‘woken up’ to their stark choices. 

F.M. Alexander argued that we are capable of bringing greater consciousness to all our activities; in fact he believed it to be a matter of urgency for humankind.  

Motivation is key. Self-responsibility is a bigger key.  But belief is the biggest key of all.  If you believe something is involuntary, you’ll act as though it’s true.  Wouldn’t it be great if it turns out it's not involuntary and you can change if you want to? 

If you'd like to have greater belief in your abilities to do things in easier ways, get in touch here, I'd be delighted to hear from you.

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