How many times have you made a decision, only to find yourself engaging in self-sabotage?
We give up sugar only to have “just one” slice of cake at a party. We say we’re going to exercise and finally get in shape but then end up doing literally anything except going to the gym. Maybe we say we’re going to save up some money for an emergency fund but then keep spending frivolously instead.
In her training to become a therapeutic guided imagery facilitator, subconscious mind expert Allie Duzett learned the story of the Elephant and the Ant Vince by Proscente.
During our interview, Allie shared with me the story ...
In the story, the Ant has a mind of its own. It goes here, it goes there, making choices and deciding where it’s going. But what the Ant doesn’t know is: it’s actually on the back of the Elephant.
And the Elephant is going where the Elephant is going.
And the Ant is just along for the ride.
The Ant decides it doesn’t like the direction it’s heading, so it turns itself around only to find itself further along the same path no matter which direction it faces. If the Elephant doesn’t change direction, it doesn’t matter which way the Ant goes. It will end up wherever the Elephant takes it.
Allie, tell me what this story really means ….
This story is about the conscious and subconscious minds. The Ant is the conscious mind: making choices, turning itself around, trying to go where it wants to go. But the conscious mind is at the mercy of the subconscious mind, the Elephant, and where the subconscious decides to go is really where the Ant will end up.
This story explains so much about the human experience.
The idea of the Ant and the Elephant is perhaps the most obvious when it comes to matters of addiction. Mark Twain wrote: “Quitting smoking is easy, I’ve done it a thousand times.” If you’ve given up on an addiction a thousand times--instead of just once and for all! I can guarantee your Elephant is going in a direction your Ant does not want to go.
How can you can change the direction of your Elephant?
I’m not one of those people who loves affirmations. You know, the thing where you look in the mirror and tell yourself great things about yourself every day. Affirmations can be helpful, but to me, affirmations are like the Ant yelling for the Elephant to change directions. It can take a lot of effort from the Ant before the Elephant will even notice the Ant has something to say. In my work with the subconscious mind, I have found that there are much faster and easier ways than affirmations to turn the Elephant around.
If you really want your Elephant to about-face and get going in a different direction--say, a direction more oriented towards fitness, happiness, and peace--I would have to recommend scheduling time with someone well versed in the workings of the subconscious mind. But there are a few things you can do on your own--besides or in addition to affirmations--to start your Elephant on an alternate path.
One of my favorite methods for beginners at accessing and altering the subconscious mind involves four simple steps.
Can you explain the four steps more?
The first step is to recognize what is going on in your subconscious mind. One way to do this is to get out a pen and paper. Write by hand: Dear subconscious mind, what are some beliefs I have that are holding me back?
Then write, holding nothing back, until it feels done. Allow yourself to write anything that comes to mind, without judgment. Avoid analyzing as you go. Analysis can come afterwards. This is a powerful way to allow the subconscious mind to bring issues and beliefs to your attention.
The second step is to release. Pick a limiting belief from the writing exercise. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and ask your mind to generate an image that represents the belief. When you have an idea of this image, ask what it needs validated in order to heal. Listen to the image and honor what it has to say. When it's done speaking and being heard, imagine an all-knowing healer coming to your image and making it right. Your healer could be a religious figure, a spirit animal, a loved one, or even an enlightened version of yourself. Whoever or whatever the healer is, allow it and the healing to occur without judgment.
The third step of the process is to replace. Once the image associated with the belief is gone, the belief will most likely be gone. But nature abhors a vacuum! Decide on a replacement belief. Then, close your eyes and create an image that represents your new belief. Visualize this image permeating your brain, your heart, your DNA, and even your cells. Feel the new belief become a part of your system.
The fourth step of the process is to review and record. After you've installed your new belief image, your job is to notice what is different. Pay extra attention for the next few days and weeks to review what has changed about your life. Write it down for extra reinforcement and inspiration the next time you're ready to switch out some troublesome subconscious beliefs!
Why do you feel this is so important to your work, Allie?
Most people want a life full of health, wealth, and joy. To the extent we do not experience these things, our biggest problems tend to stem from the subconscious mind--the Elephant who’s really running things despite the best attempts of our conscious Ant to make things better. You can use this exercise to help turn your Elephant around and get your conscious and subconscious minds working together to experience your best, most joyous life.