How Our Unconscious Shapes Our Reality

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

What if the life you are living is shaped more by what you don’t see than by what you do? At the core of our beings, beneath the surface of our conscious thoughts and actions, lies the vast and often unexplored territory of the unconscious mind. This powerful segment of our psyche not only holds the keys to our deepest fears and desires but also molds our perceptions, decisions, and ultimately, our reality.

“Sigmund Freud didn’t exactly invent the idea of the conscious versus unconscious mind, but certainly was responsible for making it popular, and this was one of his main contributions to psychology. Freud (1900-1905) developed a topographical model of the mind, describing the features of the mind’s structure and function.”

According to Psychology Today, “the unconscious is the vast sum of operations of the mind that take place below of the level of conscious awareness. The conscious mind contains all the thoughts, feelings, cognitions, and memories we acknowledge, while the unconscious consists of deeper mental processes not readily available to the conscious mind.”

But what is the unconscious mind? “It can be helpful to compare the mind to an iceberg. Everything above the water represents conscious awareness while everything below the water represents the unconscious. Consider how an iceberg would look if you could see it in its entirety. Only a small part of the iceberg is visible above the water. What cannot be seen from the surface is the enormous amount of ice that makes up the bulk of the iceberg, submerged deep below in the water.”

What behavior comes from the unconscious? “People automatically tend to imitate the physical behavior of others, including their emotional displays, a response generated unconsciously and thought to be an important contributor to the ancestral human need for social cohesion. Research shows that feelings arise in the unconscious, as everyday events stimulate networks of associations, and while we may be aware of the feelings, we often do not know how they arose.”

How do therapists work with the unconscious mind? “Dreams are probably the most well-known method: our minds are processing memories, events, thoughts, and desires at night-time whilst we sleep. If we can wake up and remember any of our dreams and share them, it can help us think more about what may be going on for us and uncover some of our hidden/unconscious feelings and thoughts. We can bring our dreams to the consulting room where we can again get in touch safely with the unconscious communications we have experienced whilst we are asleep.”

Alexandra Peet also affirms, “if difficult events and feelings in our lives are not processed, deep-rooted anxiety remains and can cause stress which might manifest in problems with our sleep, digestion, or ability to manage our emotions. We might even find ourselves slipping into a state of depression. But if we can find out the cause of the hidden anxiety or fear, we can look at it, think about it, and talk through what it may mean.”

In conclusion, the work of Sigmund Freud and modern psychological research underscores the significant role the unconscious plays not just in individual behavior but in forming the fabric of human interaction. Therapeutic practices that tap into our unconscious, such dream analysis, are often powerful tools for uncovering deep-seated fears and desires, allowing for a greater understanding of ourselves and, ultimately, providing a pathway to healing.


AlexUser. «The Unconscious & Psychotherapy | Counselling Ringwood». Alexandra Peet – Bournemouth Based Psychotherapist, May 22, 2022, .

Unconscious. May 8, 2024, .

Unconscious | Psychology Today. . .

«What Is the Unconscious (and Why Is It Like an Iceberg)?» Verywell Mind, .

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