Court Is In Session
In every moment of every day, your brain is holding court. It is passing judgement, not on other people or the quality of your lunch (though it does that, too), but on incoming information. It calls each observation to the bench, scrutinizing it before meting out the sentence--pass or fail. Those bits of information that fail this internal audit go straight to mental jail. They are locked away, never to meet with the counsel of your conscious mind. You will only become aware of those things which your internal judge has deemed worthy of your attention, the information which passes before the bench and is granted the freedom to continue on to the level of consciousness. And your brain is far from an impartial magistrate.
Your senses collect more than 10 million bits of information every second. Ten million per second! That is a literally mind-boggling amount of data. The human brain performs more calculations per second than the world's fastest supercomputers. But the vast majority of this processing is done at the subconscious level. If your entire brain is superior to a supercomputer, your conscious mind might is more on par with a 1985 PacMan game. While your subconscious is effortlessly receiving those 10 million plus data points each second, your conscious mind can only attend to around 50. That's still an amazing amount of mental power, but it's a fraction of a fraction of what's coming in from your senses in every waking moment.
If you were to attempt to consciously attend to even 1% of the data that's coming in to your subconscious mind in every second, you'd be so overwhelmed that we'd find you in the corner drooling, eyes glassed over like a taxidermized trout. Which leaves the subconscious with a very vital job--it has to "decide" which information should be allowed to reach the level of conscious thinking, and what points will be sentenced to jail, never to see the light of conscious day.
This is the courtroom in your mind, where your subconscious sits behind the bench sporting a lace collar and red lipstick just like Judge Judy, staring over the top of its reading glasses and executing rapid-fire judgements on which data passes muster. The real Judge Judy has law statues and television producers that tell her how her cases should be handled. What does your brain use to sentence information to the freedom of being seen by the conscious mind or the deep dungeon miles beneath your awareness? It uses what you already believe to be true.
I told you it wasn't an impartial judge!
The main "statute" that your brain uses to determine which information will be forwarded on to your consciousness is what you currently believe to be the truth. As Dr. Bruce Lipton says, "the function of your mind is to create coherence between your beliefs and your reality." Notice that the function of your mind is NOT to impartially gather information, to help you determine the objective truth, or to expose you to novel ideas or information. Quite the opposite. The judge sitting on your inner bench is actively trying to present you with a picture of reality that is in keeping with your current expectations.
If you believe yourself to be unlovable, your inner judge will happily send to the dungeon all plaintiffs suggesting otherwise, while allowing your conscious mind to perceive the number of people who viewed your dating profile but didn't message you. If you believe the world is unfair, the black-robed banshee in your brain will incarcerate multiple examples of balance and fairness in your everyday life while calling your attention to news stories about children dying of cancer.
This process goes on in your mind in every second of every day. Knowing the massive amount of information that's being offered to you in every second, it seems safe to argue that justification for literally any belief system is available to you. Yet you're aware of just .000005% of the total data coming in. Out of the more than 10 million inputs coming before the bench each second, a mere 50 will receive the benefit of your conscious counsel, and those data points have been carefully selected because they "prove" what you already believe.
Suddenly the nearly universal struggle to change a mindset makes much more sense. You've probably wished you could see yourself differently, or wanted to change how you relate to another. You've almost certainly found these changes nearly impossible to create. No matter how much you want to believe the new outlook, the evidence just isn't there.
Except...it is. Support for your desired mindset is there, it exists. It's all around you, everywhere. It parades before the judge in an endless train, along with millions of other bits and baubles, related and unrelated to the beliefs in question. Each one pops up before the bench, like a clown tumbling gaily from a tiny car. And 99.99% (+) of them are summarily dismissed, whisked away to the deep dungeon of your unconscious mind before they can honk their horns or dance a wee jig. Even--especially--the ones in support of a new belief system.
Anything that contradicts your current beliefs is judged most quickly, sentenced most harshly. It is these pieces of information that the judge has been tasked with eliminating; book 'em, Danno. The judge's job is to create coherence between your beliefs and your reality. Your current beliefs. Not your desired beliefs. Not the beliefs in highest service to you and the world, the beliefs most closely aligned with your growth or your happiness. Just whatever beliefs you happen to have at this moment. Reality is to align with these expectations, and any usurpers of the status quo are to be summarily sentenced to life.
As you learn about yourself and the specific expectations that you hold (most of which were formed in your subconscious, a conflict of interest if ever I've seen one), you will begin noticing certain belief systems that are holding you back. For example, you may find that you believe "I am unlovable." Aware of this belief and how it's negatively effecting your life, you'll likely embark on a mission to change it. This is your conscious desire.
But until you've actually made that change, the judge is still throwing the book at anything that doesn't support the concept that you're unlovable. In the courtroom, the primary objective remains a coherence between reality and unlovable you. Rarely, if ever, will life's data points be filtered in support of the changes you'd like to make. The chances of one of those 50 bits of filtered information that make their way into your conscious mind aligning with your lovability are akin to the proverbial snowball. That is to say, exceptionally poor.
Worse, the information that arrives in your consciousness doesn't feel like a micro-percentage of the whole picture. It simply feels like the truth. That's how the system is set up to work, that's the function of your mind! So while your subconscious is busily assigning most of your observations to a locked cell, your conscious mind assumes that the bits of information parading before it represent the full cast of characters, the whole picture of the world around you. No happy clowns here, just a bunch of sad sacks carrying picket signs reading 'you are positively unlovable,' 'no hope here,' and other equally demoralizing messages.
It seems that all of life's evidence points to the validity of your old mindset. But what feels like ALL of the evidence is far from it. In fact, there is every bit as much evidence supporting the new belief you'd like to implement. It's locked away in the basement beneath your brain, twiddling its thumbs and hoping lunch today is not another hot turkey sandwich. And in order to change your beliefs, you're going to have to mastermind a jailbreak.
Being aware of the courtroom in your mind and the function of the judge can be helpful. Now that you've read this far, you can at least tell yourself that what you perceive is a miniscule fraction of what you've actually seen. You know that calling your perceptions facts is akin to calling two A's, an R, and a Q Scrabble. You're not playing with a full deck, as the saying goes. And you know that the tiny fraction of the evidence you're seeing has been carefully selected based on what you expect to see from your current belief system.
This knowledge is helpful. But in order to shift a belief, you'll probably need some evidence. Simply repeating a new thought to yourself is rarely effective, and in fact often serves to reinforce the existing belief. It's like arguing with a toddler. There's a strong energy of "nuh uh!" The more you challenge the current definition of reality, the harder the judge works to regain coherence. Remember, that's her job. She didn't put that red lipstick on to half-ass it. She's serious about her business.
This is why affirmations are often ineffective. Simply saying over and over "I am worthy of love" while your brain presents you with increasing amounts of evidence that you are, in fact, so such thing, is exhausting and demoralizing. In order to begin moving away from an existing belief, to change reality as it were, that jailbreak is needed.
This is where the counsel of your conscious mind approaches the bench. I would like to see prisoner #A67492, says your conscious mind. You know, that moment when my friend Susan told me how much she appreciated my friendship. Let's bring that information into the courtroom, please. I'd like to put it on the stand and take a look at it.
The evidence to change your beliefs exists, it's just hidden right now. Your inner judge isn't ready to release it to you just yet, but the power of the conscious mind is just that--powerful. You don't have to wait outside the courtroom doors hoping to catch a glimpse of what you need to see. You can go right down into the cells and look for it. You can subpoena your own damned evidence. To do that, I use a tool called an evidence journal.
Your evidence journal is precisely what it sounds like--a record of evidence in favor of the new belief you are trying to adopt. It's your conscious mind hanging around the courtroom, paying careful attention to who's passing through, and taking notes before Her Honor has a chance to send supporting evidence to the brig. It's interviewing the prisoners that have passed through the hallowed halls and recalling the evidence that was previously suppressed. And it's making a hard copy record of that evidence for your own use.
Your evidence journal can be electronic or on paper, but it's important that it be recorded somewhere. Don't try to keep a list in your head. You need that hard copy. Otherwise these facts risk being seen as escapees. While your attention is elsewhere and they're wandering the halls in your mind, they're likely to be scooped up by the subconscious and sent down the Green Mile.
Keep your journal all in one place--a single piece of paper, an actual journal, one note in your phone, a single voice recording that you add to over time. You want all of your evidence handy because you're going to access it often.
When you notice your old belief in action, or you're considering your new belief and it simply seems untrue, you're going to read the evidence. And each time you notice a piece of new evidence that supports your new belief, you're going to record it in your journal. As this process continues, you'll win the judge over to your side. Before long, she'll be waving through "facts" that support your new belief and sending the information that supposedly proved your old though pattern down to the dungeon.
That high school sweetheart who was crushed when you broke it off the summer before college? In the journal. Friends who rely on your loving support when times are hard? Record it. The date that went so well, but later you found out one of you wanted to live in the city and the other wanted a country life? Put it in there.
The evidence journal is how you retrain your judge. The seat in your subconscious is like the Supreme Court--it's a lifetime appointment. There's no firing your inner magistrate. She's got a case of that lipstick and a deep commitment to the job, and she'll be doing it the moment you take your last breath in this life. But an evidence journal can help you direct her. It allows you to set the statutes, to choose change over continuity. It's simple, and more importantly, it's effective.
The evidence supporting the person you want to be is already within you. The proof of your ability to adapt and grow, to be the best current version of yourself and to continue improving exponentially, is being presented to your inner judge in every moment of every day. Don't get caught playing Scrabble with four tiles. Get an evidence journal. And if you need some help, set up a free chat. I've been known to rock red lipstick, too.