The difference between conscious and subconscious mind

The difference between Conscious and Subconscious Mind – Which one is more powerful?

The mind has two parts – conscious and subconscious. They are two parts of one mind, but they do not learn in the same way. There is the difference between conscious and subconscious mind described below.

“The mind is the greatest power in all of creation.”                        ~ Dr. J. B. Rhine

What does your mind look like?Mind Stick Figure

If I ask you to imagine your mind, you would probably picture your brain. That is because we think in pictures. However, your mind is not your brain. The brain is an electrochemical organ that can be seen and photographed. The mind is an activity and cannot be seen nor can it be photographed.

1934. Dr. Thurman Fleet, a chiropractic healer, and teacher of metaphysics created “Mind Stick Figure” to help us form a mental picture of our mind.

Conscious Mind

  • is thinking, educated mind (it can learn by reading a book)
  • is creative mind (our goals, wishes, and desires come from it)Idea
  • is open to new things
  • initiates all voluntary actions
  • has an ability to choose and to accept or reject
  • thinks abstractly
  • has short-term memory (about 20 seconds)
  • is time oriented (it thinks in past or future)
  • has limited capacity (it can do 1-3 events at a time)
  • process about 40 environmental stimuli per second
  • operates less than 5% of the day

We are only controlling our neurobiology and cognitive behavior 5% of the time with our wishes and desires. 95% of the day conscious mind is thinking. While conscious mind is thinking, we play automatic subconscious program, but we cannot see our subconscious programming and behavior because while we are thinking we are not paying attention.

 Subconscious Mind

  • is habitual mind (learns by repetition)
  • is emotional mind (once we get emotionally attached to our thoughts, vibration causes us to take action which produces results)
  • is designed to protect us and keep us safe
  • controls processes related to the maintenance and sustaining of the physical body (circulation of the blood, breathing, digestion, regulation of body temperature)
  • likes familiar things
  • thinks literally, specific
  • must accept, does not have the ability to reject
  • has long-term memory (our whole life)
  • has very high capacity – it can do 1000’s events at a time (when we enter the room, in order to keep us safe, subconscious mind is monitoring environment, and when we feel stressed, and we do not even know why, that is subconscious mind, checking things out for us before we are consciously aware of that)
  • processes about 20,000,000 environmental stimuli per second
  • operates in present time only, everything is happening right now (you might feel stress in your body just by thinking about stressful memory)
  • operates 95% of the day or more
  • cannot differentiate between what you imagine and what is real

“Your subconscious mind does not know the difference between an actual experience that produces an emotion and an emotion that you fabricate by thought alone.” 

                                                                                         ~ Dr. Joe Dispenza

The subconscious mind learns two ways:

1. The first 7 years of life, it learns primarily through hypnosis low EEG vibration frequency called theta. This frequency range is normally between 5 and 8 cycles a second.

When we were born, we did not have conscious faculty developed yet. We had just subconscious mind, which was exposed to everything that went on around it (people, radio, TV). We were observing our parents, siblings and other people around us, and downloading programs.

We were programmed to speak the language we speak, to like the food we like and to do the things the certain way. Our basic programs are not coming from our wishes and desires; they come from our family and other people around us.

subconscious programming

“The first six years of a child’s life, it is like a tape recorder is on. Everything it sees, smells, touches, experiences in any way, whatever it hears, is being downloaded into the brain before the consciousness of the child is even made apparent.”                                                                                 ~Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D.


When we developed conscious faculties, we were already programmed and we started to think thoughts that were in harmony with our programs.

For 400 years, Jesuits have told people: “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man”. That is programmable period and whoever programs your mind, they can control your outcome because 95% of your life after your age 7 is a program.

2. After 7 years of life, it learns by habituation/repetition

Our beliefs and habits are formed through repetition of information. We create our habits by thinking the same thoughts, having the same feelings and following the same routines every day.

Once we learn how to walk, it is a habit and we do not need to learn it again. Without subconscious mind, we would have to relearn it every day again.

When we started to learn a new skill such as driving a car, we were doing it consciously and it took us some time before new habit was programmed into our mind.

Today, we are driving and having a discussion with the passenger sitting next to us at the same time. While we are engaged in the conversation, our subconscious mind is driving the car.

The difference between conscious and subconscious mind

Our subconscious mind is a database of downloaded programs derived from recording behaviors of others. It is formed from the last trimester of pregnancy through the first seven years of our life. Psychology reveals that up to 70% of these “recordings” are disempowering and limiting.

The function of our subconscious mind is to store and retrieve data. We store our memories, habits, beliefs, and self-image there. It has to ensure that we respond exactly the way we are programmed.

Our subconscious mind is designed to protect us. It observes both our surroundings and the body’s internal awareness, reads the environmental signals and immediately engages previously learned behaviors, without awareness of the conscious mind.

For an instance, if a ball comes near your eye, the subconscious mind, which processes about 20,000,000 environmental stimuli per second, will cause the eye to blink, while the conscious mind, which processes about 40 environmental stimuli per second, may not even be aware of the threatening object.

Subconscious mind causes us to feel emotionally and physically uncomfortable whenever we try to do anything new or different or to change any of our established forms of behavior. The sense of fear and discomfort are psychological signs that our subconscious mind has been activated.

How do we choose our thoughts?

We have 100% control of our thinking. We can choose any thought that we want. When emotionalized, these thoughts impress themselves into the subconscious mind. Our feelings determine the state of vibration of our body. The state of vibration of our body makes us act in a certain way, which produces our results.

practice presenceThe conscious mind can think in the past, and it can think in the future, and it can solve the problems, and most of the time it is thinking about something and when it is thinking, it is not paying attention, and then subconscious mind runs the show.

If you can stay conscious and stop the negative thoughts, and as you repeat that more frequently, subconscious begin to learn this as a habit.


When we want something consciously, the subconscious has data about that. If subconscious does not agree with conscious, we have disharmony.

If we have a goal or desire to do something, and our subconscious mind is working against us, the slower conscious mind does not have much chance. That is why we often find ourselves procrastinating, sabotaging, and not moving forward with our goals. It is because we have limiting belief at the subconscious level of mind, which is holding us or even pushing us back.

To live the life we desire, we need to get our conscious and subconscious mind work together as a team because desire (consciousness) is what gets you started and habit (subconsciousness) is what keeps you going.

You can find out how to discover limiting beliefs here.


  1. Great explanation of conscious and subconscious mind! I am always intrigued by this manifestation of our thoughts because I tend to think negatively and want to change that thought. This article clearly explains how our mind works, and how our thought affects our lives.
    It is so important that parents need to know about this because how their children’s lives will be formed before at the age of 7!
    Thank you for the great information.


    1. Hi Kyoko!

      Thanks for your comment. Much appreciated. We tend to think negative because we are wired that way. For example, negative stimuli produce more neural activity than do positive ones. They are also perceived more easily and quickly. The amygdala uses about two-thirds of its neurons to detect bad news and negative experiences. Negative experiences are stored in long-term memory quickly, and positive ones usually need to be held in awareness for at least 12 seconds to transfer from short-term to long-term memory.

      If we keep our mind in the present moment, we can recognize and stop negative thoughts before we get involved.
      I agree that conscious parenting is very important, but the majority of people is not aware of that. However, the good news is that we can reprogram our subconscious mind.

      All the best!

  2. I have learned so much from this article. Very interesting, especially about the first 7 years of our life. Now I know a bit more about the conscious and unconscious working together or not. I also understand why it is hard to break a bad habit. Thanks for the teaching. Can we then reprogram ourselves with thoughts to act on something we want to do but the unconscious mind is uncomfortable?

    1. Hi Latricia,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, we can reprogram our subconscious mind and one way to do this is the same way it was programmed, by repetition.

      We can choose any thought that we want. If we repeat it again, and again, and do that frequently enough, we start to feel the way we think, and once we are emotionally attached to that thought, the thought impresses itself into the subconscious mind. Our body then starts to vibrate in accordance with that feeling, which then makes us act in a certain way. To develop a new habit, it takes on average 66 days in a continuum.

      What is important, that our thoughts come from our beliefs, so if we want to change our beliefs, we have to stay conscious. If we could stay conscious and observe our thoughts and actions, we would be able to recognize and stop “unwanted” thoughts before we get involved in them.

      Best wishes!

  3. Wow, Great post, very nicely said My mind was thinking as I was reading your post and found it very intriguing. It’s like our conscious mind thinks of it and our subconscious uses what we like the best.

    1. Hi Fred!

      Many thanks for your comment. Your subconscious mind filters everything you read. When your conscious mind starts thinking and analyzing, you don’t pay attention anymore and the default program in your subconscious mind takes over. If you like the content, you probably hold a belief that supports it, and if you don’t like the content, you probably hold a belief, which doesn’t support it. Thanks for reading 🙂


  4. I think that we can train our conscious mind to be more oriented to now! Not dwelling on the past or future. Deep meditation helps to achieve this. Yes we can choose our thoughts though it is something we have to put effort into. This is good information that people need to hear! Good article!

  5. This is really interesting. Although the first few words of this comment were written by the unconscious mind, I can start my conscious part and write something more meaningful. I wish I read this article a few years earlier and would have thought my daughter a second language already, I guess now she is getting eight it will get harder every day.
    I also have to think about my reading criminal stories every day, I guess there would be better things to feed my mind than killing and catching the bad 🙂
    Thanks for this mindful post

    1. Hi Stefan,

      Thank you for your comment. After the age of six, children begin to spend more time in an Alpha, which is not hypnogogic state anymore but is still higher level of EEG activity. It is like calm consciousness and is more receptive than Beta. Beta is an active consciousness, which is more sustainable with children beyond 12 years of age and is a normal state for adults. So, go for it! 🙂

      You are probably right, there could be a more productive way to feed your mind 🙂 Keep looking and if you could find something that feeds both your mind and your soul that would be awesome!

      All the Best!

  6. wonderful post, this is educative indeed and most people confuse between the two conscious and subconscious. I like the way you have simplified them easy to follow. I study psychology for a number of years and understanding of these two terms is helpful to everyone let alone in the criminal justice system
    keep it up

    1. Hi Kwacha,

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I hope this post will help people to understand the difference between two parts of our mind.


  7. As a parent, I find this very meaningful because my baby is still very young and in the next few years, these are probably her formative years where she will “download” things into her subconscious mind. While it may be uncomfortable for her and also us at times, it is important to get the subconscious mind on the right track and stop chasing for convenience over substance. Your article gives clarity to what my wife and I have been thinking.

    1. Hi Jude,

      Thanks for taking the time to read a post and leave a comment. I wish you all the best in raising your baby and if you have any question, I would be more than happy to get you an answer.


  8. Brilliant post, the mention of Jesuits is particularly interesting.

    You talk about the human mind being programmable like a computer, it’s true.
    Children are especially susceptible to programming indeed and this is why I feel it’s so important to be aware of what they are exposed to. TV is a particularly powerful programing device and we have chosen not to have one at home.

    What are your thoughts on TVs? Especially for young children.

    Looking forward to reading more.

    1. Hi Lace,

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I am glad you liked the post. I agree that TV is a powerful media and in my opinion, it is a very important not to expose children to a bad news and violence, and to help them find a meaningful way to educate and entertain themselves.

      All the best!

  9. Excellent article Blanka!

    I enjoyed your whole explanation of the conscious vs sub-conscious mind. I am working hard to change my negative thoughts into positive ones, and this is a benefit to every area of my life.

    I have been using subliminal programming for about a year now, as well as affirmations to try to change some of my limiting beliefs and I am really starting to see how the positive changes are manifesting some really great opportunities for me.

    Thank you for confirming that our thoughts are our choice!

    1. Hi Irma,

      Many thanks for sharing your experience. Subliminal tapes are great stuff for changing limiting beliefs, as well as affirmations if used the right way. I am glad that you see positive changes on yourself. Keep going!

      I wish you all the best!

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