Success often means being able to deal efficiently and appropriately with the inevitable unexpected challenges that come our way. However, this becomes more difficult as life becomes more complicated. Fortunately we have a capability that allows us to turn over many of the redundant tasks in our lives to an auto pilot feature of our consciousness. But while this is a powerful capability, like so many other powerful tools we have available to us, this one can work against us if we don't maintain a firm grip on it through awareness.
This is our ability to install certain thinking and behavior patterns as unconscious habits. The problem is that not all of our current habitual thinking and behavior patterns are positive and constructive ones and we need to do a little mental maintenance from time to time just to protect ourselves from any unwanted behaviors from becoming automatic and unconscious. Also, many of you are aware of this capability where behavior patterns are concerned, but somehow have not extended that awareness to thinking patterns as well.
The process goes like this. We have certain thinking and behavior patterns that are recurring over long periods of time and we recognize the need to make these easier in order to free up our energy for those things that only occur occasionally or one time. So, over a period of time we practice and perform these thinking and behaviors until we can do them without conscious thought and at that point they become installed as automatic and unconscious activities in the habitual mind.
There are obvious advantages to the habitual mind. It takes so many things off our table and frees us up to attend to the less simple and perhaps more important necessities of life, reduces stress levels, makes life generally easier. But there is a trade off here even without the downside of this powerful capability. One of the vulnerabilities of this strategy is that it is based on a highly questionable assumption. It assumes that there are things in the real world that don't change. Everything changes, and that is a natural law. But it is a law whose existence the entire human species chooses to deny or at least ignore.
Another trade off is that we deny ourselves the direct experience of performing these activities any longer. As if we have downgraded them to insignificance, yet these are activities that are being done and being done by us without an opportunity to enjoy the rich experience. These are moments of our lives that are lost to us forever.
But the critical downside of this capability is that it is only truly useful and constructive when used by an aware intelligent consciousness, that is, someone who is aware of when it is being used, how it is being used, for what purpose it is being used, and how long it is to remain in place and we only reach this state of consciousness through the process of self improvement. Installing habitual thought and behavior patterns through the process of practice and conditioning is extremely helpful during the journey of self improvement because it allows us to replace negative habits with positive ones once we identify them, which is a crucial turnaround in a negatively oriented life.
When it comes to concepts like self confidence and success, self image and our mindset become very important and that is why it is also important to look at the concept of the habitual mind. Suppose that your core beliefs upon which your self image and mindset are based, are themselves built on the installation of certain habitual thinking patterns that may or may not have been installed by you, but rather by outside influences that you trusted to be reliable at the time like parents, teachers, authority figures and the environment itself. Essentially this would mean that you are not someone that you decided to be, but rather someone that others wanted you to be or thought you should be.Now in the case of someone whose life is good and they are happy with who they are, this is not an issue. But in the case of the millions of people who are not happy and have no clue who and what they are, then perhaps a little data mining is in order and this is the journey of self improvement, self realization and self awareness.
You are probably already intuitively perceiving the obvious difficulty in dealing with automatic thinking and behavior habits. They are unconscious! We are no longer conscious of them, and because of this, they are difficult to access and identify. Difficult but not impossible. There are some good tools and techniques out there designed to help us in this particular effort. Three of the best are yoga, meditation, and self hypnosis. These tools are designed around the objective of awareness, especially the Vipassana meditation technique whose whole purpose is awareness.
But know this! While it is difficult especially in the beginning, it is one of the most exciting and personally rewarding journeys any human being can undertake. It is like an action movie filled with risk, drama, the thrill of discovery and rich rewards for the courageous who stick to the course and realize success. And success at personal improvement brings success at life and all things in life and all you have to do is explore the landscape of your own personal habitual mind and tweak a few undesirable things.
You can begin your journey of self awareness by changing the behaviors that are preventing your success here.