Elephant In The Room Is Your Subconscious

August 17, 2011       Samuel Fanburg      

It wasn’t until the end of James Mapes presentation, as the 500-member audience held a metal washer attached to a string, “moving” it with their mind when they began to take the journeyman speaker somewhat seriously.

As part of the 2011 New York Nonprofit Conference in New York, N.Y., held by the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation (DMANF), Mapes spoke to the audience about tools that can help sharpen their imaginations, “increasing [their] ability to communicate and ability to work as a fundraiser.”

As author of “Quantum Leap Thinking: An Owners Guide to the Mind”, Mapes, a speaker, performance coach and imagination expert, began his speech by discussing the realm of the conscious and subconscious. By understanding the two separately, Mapes argued, we could help influence our subconscious, through visualization so that we can live out our goals in the conscious.

Mapes likened the struggle between our subconscious and conscious to that of an elephant and its rider. The rider is our conscious, you can rationally see what is coming ahead of them, yet cannot control the elephant, our subconscious. The elephant or “subconscious,” wants what is wants, “now” and does not give up a short-term sacrifice for a long-term payoff.

“In the conscious we can look into the future and visualize paths of choice and can make a plan,” Mapes said. “Because of this, we are master storytellers, we have the ability to influence our subconscious through vivid, emotionally charged pictures and images.”

Mapes said that in the end, the subconscious is made up of fear — delicious fear, primitive fear and illusory fear. He said that “illusory fear” is the most dangerous.

“This is something within us that creates an illusion,” said Mapes. “I call the fear ‘the Great Trickster.’ It is able to work dark magic by making fear that may seem illusory, primitive.”

Primitive fears are general fears that require the fight or flight mode of thinking. To escape these fears and conquer them, Mapes advocated for visualization or trying to change to the outside world with your own thoughts.

Mapes said, “Don’t look where you don’t want to go.”

By engaging the audience with an exercise, Mapes had audience members take the aforementioned washers attached to a piece of string and hold in front of them and think about the washer going in a circle. After deep concentration, many audience members’ washers began to move in a clockwise direction.

“Remember that the image of the future has already been done now,” said Mapes. “We are always moving in the direction we are thinking. You have to be actively using ‘visualization.’ It’s almost a mental game, by being aware of your thinking at all times.”

Feeding into growth, visualization becomes the key aspect in assuring “change.” By coming to grips with your subconscious and conscious, this “change” can be achieved simply argued Mapes.

“Resistance is the natural reaction to change,” he said. “Mastery of resistance is going beyond this feeling and being uncomfortable and awkward. People will always feel alone, even if everyone is going through change at the same time.”

In parting, Mapes had the audience fill out vision statements that will be mailed to them in a month’s time. With vision statements, Mapes hoped the audience would visualize goals for themselves in their letter, only living them out 30 days later.

Mapes offered five steps for living an exceptional life:

• Make friends with reality- Turn your fear into positive action and control what can be controlled.

• Adjust your attitude- Have a positive attitude with co-workers, your team and clients, your family and friends and social network.

• Create a solid support system- Build your support system by helping others achieve their goals. Surround yourself with people who have a positive attitude.

• Ask for help and express your gratitude- Set aside your ego and ask for help from your friends.

• Create a vision that will carry you on through crisis- Use the power of imagery to quiet stress and fear to create a positive expectation for the future. Visualization is a very this very tool that can help serve you, your family and team. Vision and clear communication of vision is the mark of a true leader.