Monday, January 29, 2018

The Critical Area of the Mind

(This blog was originally posted on January 13, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

This afternoon, I sat in the waiting area while my friend finished a meeting. While I flicked through a copy of Us Weekly, a man approached the reception desk and asked one of the assistants if it was possible for him to speak to someone in the accounting department. The receptionist smiled politely and suggested he sit down while she went to check if the employee he needed was available to talk to the customer. When she returned a few minutes later, it was to apologize: the gentleman he wanted to talk to was in a meeting. Could she have “Mr. Jones” call the customer later?
The man smiled slightly, nodded and walked out of the office, probably disappointed but he didn’t seem very surprised. He didn’t have an appointment; at this time of year it would be very unlikely to squeeze in an impromptu meeting with an accountant. Guess what? This kind of solicitation and rejection occurs many, many times each day between the conscious and subconscious areas of the mind.
The “heavy” that sends the conscious mind’s desired new beliefs or behaviors away is called the Critical Area of the mind. This very small region of the mind is divided equally between the Conscious Mind and Subconscious Mind. Its responsibility, as it were, is to maintain the comfort (homeostasis) between these areas of the mind.
As I have explained in several previous blogs (Why Being Comfortable Feels Uncomfortable, Intuition, Because…That’s What You Like), your behavior is dictated by the subconscious mental script that is created very early in your life. This script is created by the multitude of positive and negative message units that the SCM processes and interprets as pain or pleasure during your early childhood. A positive experience, such as your pet dog licking your face in greeting, is classified as “pleasure.” A negative experience, such as burning your hand on a hot stove, would likely be classified as pain. However, even a message unit that is initially perceived as negative or “painful” can become recognized as “pleasure”, such as returning to or remaining in an abusive relationship because it is familiar or comfortable.
Conversely, if your dog bites (instead of licks) your face, or you decide to stand up to or even leave an abusive partner, the Critical Area of the mind is likely to reject the new message unit that the conscious mind is processing. Rejecting this new information is the Critical Mind’s job: If the information is unfamiliar, it is uncomfortable and therefore unwelcome: What do you mean, Fido bit me? He doesn’t bite! It was just a love nip. Or, I can’t leave my partner; I have nowhere to go! Since this information challenges the known subconscious mental script, it is unlikely that you will accept this information and change your behavior right away.
Now, let’s put this model in the context of what the interaction I observed this afternoon when someone asked to meet with “Mr. Jones.” The receptionist (Critical Area of the mind) checked with the gentleman in question (processed the message unit) and reported that Mr. Jones was busy. Since the client was also not an expected appointment (unknown to the subconscious mind), she sent him away (rejected the message unit). You might also recognize this process when you check the Caller-I.D. application on your phone and decide whether to pick up the call or let a message go to voice-mail.
For more information about the role of the Critical Area of the mind, I invite you to read my blog titled, Why Are New Ideas Scary?

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified clinical hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
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