Human beings tend to be creatures of habit. We engage in all sorts of behaviors that our conscious mind actually doesn’t really engage in, all that often. It’s rather incredible, really, the ways that our brains can operate without us actually thinking about it. Sometimes, these types of subconscious behaviors are beneficial to our existence, and greatly contribute to our quality of life. Other times, however, these subconscious behaviors will become bad habits that people should work to overcome. Either way, here are some of the incredible things that our brains are capable of doing without conscious thought…
Run entire economies
There is an idea that was examined by Sigmund Freud and his disciple, Carl Jung, back in their heyday called the “collective subconscious.” This idea looked at how entire groups of human beings can exhibit similar behaviors and how they often transcend the boundaries of region and creed. One such way we can see this collective subconscious at work is in the way that a capitalist economy runs. In modern times, we call this the “invisible hand of the market.” This is the collective work of human beings all working towards economic benefit for themselves and those around them, which causes an economy to function as though it were its own organism. While there are certainly limits to the functions of a free market (not many people, today, would argue that a completely free market would be able to sustain at a level most of us are used to), it is remarkable how our subconscious behaviors drive such a global trend. To see more on this interesting topic, check out the work of Adam Smith, one of the fathers of classical economic theory.
Human beings are typically followed by some sort of mess. Whether that be the mess of our personal lives, or the mess that a lot of us can make in some sort of geopolitical situation or another. Many people, when they see a blank space, have the desire to fill it. In this way, it is easy to let clutter become a part of our daily existence. It is simply in human nature. What is ironic about this fact, however, is that a cluttered physical space can often interfere with our thought process, and can make us much less productive. One example of this is how people, nowadays, tend to gravitate towards minimalist designs in our aesthetic choices (an idea outlined in this blog post here). This is especially true with a lot of the mental work that is required of the modern world. In this sense, our cultivated, modern selves will always be at war, somewhat, with the primal subconscious instincts that we still have.
This is, perhaps, one of the worst things that people do subconsciously. Naturally, human beings have a strong inclination towards self reliance. This produces many benefits, and can lead to the development of traits that allot a person with independence and success. However, the adverse can also be true. There are many times when the obstacles that face a person can simply be too great to overcome alone. This is why we need a social network of support to help us stand against these challenges. The internal drive of self-reliance, however, can get in the way of us accepting the help that we so desperately need. An age old adage that fits goes along with this idea is that pride comes before the fall. This is a lesson that many people would do well not to forget. A great example of this, and one that plagues many people today, and has a great effect on nearly everyone in our country and abroad, is in the world of addiction recovery, where a huge problem is people refusing to get help. This has been extremely problematic, because there are many addictions that are nearly impossible to overcome without medical help. In terms of addiction, it is also difficult because the very nature of many substances can mess with people’s emotional security and cause them to avoid getting help (as is outlined in this blog post here).
This is probably the most individualized subconscious behavior on this list, but it is very widespread. Stress eating is a very common problem (particularly in the United States), one that is observed by therapists, frequently. What’s highly interesting about the phenomenon of stress eating is that many people don’t realize that they are doing it, and begin to lose track of their food intake. This leads to many problems in the long run, such as weight issues, as well as cholesterol problems that can increase the chance of heart attack, especially since the person who is stress eating is already stressed.