The Power of Subconscious Filters and Beliefs

By Tim Craske, Thȋnkercafé


An adult human brain weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms, and contains about 100 billion neurons.  That’s as many neurons as there are stars in the Milky Way.  Each cortical neuron can have 1000 to 10,000 synaptic connections, giving more possible neuron connection combinations than there are particles in the universe!  There is therefore nothing more complex and unique than a human brain. No two are the same, even for twins.

The subconscious mind can take in 2 million bits of information every second.  Yet your conscious mind can only handle 5 to 7 thoughts per second.  The subconscious is therefore the more powerful processor, and has to make decisions about what is important for your conscious mind to be aware of on a massive scale every second.  It makes these decisions based on your experiences and memories.  These memories guide your subconscious beliefs and values which are the greatest determinants of your behavior.

The subconscious only brings to awareness that information which experience has programmed it to consider important.  This is the basis of the concept of “meta-programs”, which are mental programs which the subconscious mind uses to filter and translate the sensory information it is receiving to create the perception of awareness in the conscious mind.

Meta-program filters are based on the interaction of memories and the physical structure or “wiring” of the brain, in response to sensory stimulus from the 5 senses.  The brain uses memory to make sense of information coming in from our senses to give our life events meaning.

In early childhood, as we grow those parts of the brain that are stimulated by the environment become active, whilst unused neurons and connections are lost on a “use it or lose it” basis.  In this way events that are given meaning and structure at say three years old are used to guide responses until we are about eight, those at eight may guide responses to fifteen years old and so on. Thus even a small event as young child, which is reinforced and reused repeatedly to interpret environment can become embodied in a metaprogram that can influence the perception and behaviour even into a middle and old age.


“We are what we repeatedly do….” Aristotle


Almost all limiting beliefs about self, others or what is possible in life and business are formed during childhood whilst the brain is rapidly growing and developing.  The brain continues to develop right through adolescence during which it is also subjected to the influence of a tide of hormones and changing emotional responses.  Women’s brains eventually reach maturity at about 18 years old, but men’s brains do not reach final maturity until they are about 21 years old.

In counseling and coaching just working on the immediately visible behavioral symptom is unlikely bring long term change.  One usually needs to work on underlying issues which provide the motivation, values and beliefs which drive the behavior.  This brings greater likelihood of success, and can have much greater impact on the client’s life and personal success.

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