How to Harness the Power of Your Subconscious Mind

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is your subconscious mind? How can you engage the power of your subconscious mind to reach your goals?

The subconscious mind is the database of all your thoughts, beliefs, impressions, and experiences collected through the five senses. Engage the power of your subconscious mind by practicing positive thinking and having unwavering faith. This will spur the creative imagination you need to succeed.

Read more about how to engage the power of your subconscious mind.

The Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind collects and files impressions and thoughts received through the five senses. The information collected may be positive or negative. It is also the source of creative imagination, which shapes your plans to achieve riches.

You have the ability to plant thoughts, plans, or goals in your subconscious that you aim to transform into riches. If these thoughts are dominant and supported by faith that you’ll reach your goal, your subconscious mind will lead you to riches. 

As previously discussed, the way to plant thoughts of riches in your subconscious mind is to use affirmation or autosuggestion. Positive thoughts must become a habit before they can translate into reality.

The subconscious mind is our link with Infinite Intelligence, or First Cause, which is the energy that powers atoms and drives the laws of nature. It is the medium through which prayers are transmitted. When we transmit our thoughts and desires with faith, we get back answers to our prayers in the form of plans or ideas to get what we’re asking for.

However, your subconscious mind can be equally influenced by negative thoughts that you passively allow to enter. The most common negative thoughts or emotions to watch out for are fear, jealousy, hatred, revenge, greed, superstition, and anger. They are particularly dangerous because the subconscious mind is more susceptible to thoughts that have an emotional component.

If you allow negative thoughts to fester, you will block your creative imagination from functioning. Instead, you should use autosuggestion to cultivate positive thoughts and emotions — desire, faith, love, sex, enthusiasm, romance, and hope — which stimulate your subsconscious to produce creative energy.

Positive and negative emotions can’t occupy your mind at the same time — one will dominate. A single negative thought is sufficient to block your mind from helping you reach your goal. Even prayer can have a negative effect, because people often pray as a last resort, when their minds are filled with fear and doubt.

To fully engage the power of your subconscious mind to reach your goal, practice faith and positive thinking until it becomes habit.

The Brain and the Sixth Sense

(Shortform note: This is Napoleon Hill’s attempt to justify his principles with some scientific rigor. These ideas aren’t accurate by today’s science and they’re not important to applying the rest of the book, but something in here may resonate with you.)

We don’t know exactly how thoughts become reality. But we know that there are intangible forces at work in the universe, even if we can’t perceive them with our five senses.

Intangible forces move oceans, create thunderstorms, and fuel the soil that provides our food; electricity is an intangible force. For all of our education, we don’t understand the intangible force of thought, and how the brain and its network of nerves translate thought into reality. But we are learning more about the brain all the time. It’s likely that the brain, through its intangible processes, can communicate with other intangible forces outside us.

Our brain performs as both a broadcasting and receiving station for thought vibrations. From the ether or energy of the universe, our brain uses the “receiving set” of creative imagination to pick up thought vibrations from other brains — especially when amped up to a high rate of vibration by emotions such as sex. When at their highest level, our thoughts can be broadcast by the subconscious mind to be picked up by other brains.

Experiments in telepathy show that minds can communicate with other minds, without words being spoken. (In experiments, some people have been able to name cards in an unseen pack, or read a thought in another person’s mind.) Master Mind groups can work this way, exchanging, blending, and building on each others’ thoughts until solutions are reached.

The Sixth Sense

Science can’t explain it, but humans can receive knowledge through other means beyond the five senses. The Infinite Intelligence can communicate with the subconscious mind through creative imagination, also known as the sixth sense, which is the thirteenth principle for acquiring riches.

The sixth sense is a signal often referred to as a hunch, inspiration, or intuition that provides answers we’ve been seeking, or a warning of danger that flashes into our mind and enables us to avoid trouble or an accident at the last second. For some people, the sixth sense takes the form of a guardian angel. A combination of the mental and spiritual, the sixth sense is almost indescribable.

Great leaders like Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Christ, Buddha, Confucius and Mohammed likely used the sixth sense. Our ability to use this power comes only slowly, if at all, as we learn to apply the principles.

Anyone who applies the principles can still succeed in achieving riches, without fully understanding the last principle, the sixth sense. 

But if you want more — a complete philosophy for getting what you want from life — the principle of the sixth sense exists to increase your understanding of yourself, others, Nature, and happiness. As you digest the ideas in this book and chapter, eventually you may find you’ve acquired the power — the sixth sense — that has driven great achievements throughout history.

A Mastermind of the Subconscious

In an unusual application of the method of communicating with other minds through heightened thought processes, author Napoleon Hill created and communicated with a Master Mind consisting of nine historical figures, whom he had studied to learn their secrets of success. They were Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napoleon, Ford and Carnegie.

Each night as he was falling asleep he held an imaginary council meeting with them, in which he asked questions about traits they exemplified that he wanted to acquire. For instance, he asked Napoleon how he inspired people and turned defeat into victory.

Over time, his council of the mind seemed more and more real, and a conversational dynamic developed. While Hill never forgot that the meetings were imaginary, he found that they inspired his creativity and honesty, and that these were the times he was most tapped in to the sixth sense. He later found himself convening his council to get help when facing challenges, and the process generated solutions.

How to Harness the Power of Your Subconscious Mind

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Here's what you'll find in our full Think and Grow Rich summary:

  • Napoleon Hill's 1937 guide to success
  • How to use thoughts, visualization, and affirmation to achieve wealth
  • The importance of a Master Mind group and how to start one

Joseph Adebisi

Joseph has had a lifelong obsession with reading and acquiring new knowledge. He reads and writes for a living, and reads some more when he is supposedly taking a break from work. The first literature he read as a kid were Shakespeare's plays. Not surprisingly, he barely understood any of it. His favorite fiction authors are Tom Clancy, Ted Bell, and John Grisham. His preferred non-fiction genres are history, philosophy, business & economics, and instructional guides.

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