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The Surprising Impact of Positive Subliminal Messages

There is growing evidence that subliminal messages have a powerful impact on our lives.

That’s right. They can change how we think about ourselves… they can change how we interact with others.

In short, they can change how we understand and experience the world.

The implications of these finding are profound — far too profound to simply ignore.

But what are subliminal messages? It is any message perceived below the threshold of conscious recognition. In other words, it is a message that we take in on some level without even knowing it.

In a world where we are already in total information overload. We may wonder whether we can take in more.

The answer is yes! In fact, these messages are even powerful enough to seep through the static. They can also change how we act and interact with others.

There are many different levels of consciousness.  All of them affect and influence us in many ways.

We’re not just talking about the power of suggestion. There is a growing body of scientific evidence that shows that subliminal persuasion works.

“These experiments are the first to show that subliminal cues relating to affect and action can alter perception of effort and endurance performance”. (Samuele Marcora Institute for the Psychology of Elite Performance (IPEP), Bangor University, UK)

What’s most exciting about this new research? We now have proof that subliminal messages work by rewiring our brains.

This form of perception can help to create new neural pathways. These pathways enable us to bypass dead ends.  They can tap into routes that are going somewhere.

A Short (but Controversial) History of Subliminal Messages

For most people, the idea of subliminal messages is far from new. Since the 1950s, the phenomenon has been widely recognized. Unfortunately, it has generally been misunderstood. There’s a simple reason why this is the case.

subliminal messages old-movie-projector with reel-to-reel film

Most of what we know or think we know about subliminal perception comes from an urban legend.

Back in the 1950s, a savvy advertising executive was looking to attract new clients. What did he do? He flashed the words “eat popcorn” and “drink Coca-Cola” on the screen of a New Jersey movie theater.

What was the result? The moviegoers reportedly rushed off to buy popcorn & drink Coca-Cola.

The advertising executive later admitted that the entire event was a hoax. By then, the damage had taken place. There was widespread outrage! Could advertisers be manipulating us without our knowledge?

The idea was horrifying enough to result in a ban on the use of subliminal messages in many countries. The United States, Britain and Australia were among the countries that adopted the ban.

The negative hype from the hoax had a devastating impact on research. For decades, it meant the general public remained suspicious of anything subliminal.

It also meant that research on the subject stalled. Researchers struggled to gain research funding. They also struggled to gain approval to carry out studies. In fact, this remained true throughout the late twentieth century.

subliminal messages girl-at-desk leaning on folded arms ina college class

Are Subliminals As Effective as a Year of School?

Over the past decade, there has been a renewed interest in subliminal messages.  And it’s changing people’s ideas of how they can use them for their own benefit.

A recent article in Psychology Today reports: “Our unconscious is a lot smarter than we think. And that’s why, if we approach it right, subliminal messages work, claims Joel Weinberger, Ph.D. Thirty years of research have proved that such a message works. When the data is analyzed, the subliminal message has an effect almost as strong as a year’s worth of school instruction has on reading.”(Psychology Today Staff, 2012)

Better yet, there has been a building interest in its positive impact on memory improvement and improvement in concentration.

Growing Evidence that Subliminal Self Help Works

After years of neglect, subliminal messages are finally receiving serious attention from researchers. Psychologists and neurologists are turning their attention to this form of messaging.

This research is taking place at top universities in the United States and around the world.

Consider 1 recent study conducted at the Yale School of Public Health. In this case, the researchers exposed a group of older adults to a series of positive messages.

To be precise, the participants were exposed to positive visual cues on aging. The result was striking. Following the exposure, the older adults exhibited higher levels of physical functioning. (Bergland, 2015)

Why? Exposing participants to positive age stereotypes decreases their negative perceptions of aging. This even holds true if the exposure is a subliminal visual cue.

Okay, but why should we care?

What is amazing about this experiment is what it proves.  In this case, the messaging had a chain effect. It didn’t just change the participants’ perceptions of aging.  It also changed them on a physical level.

Positive thinking or affirmations, whether received in subliminal message form or not, are an extremely powerful tool.

As reported, “Researchers found that the subliminal intervention influenced physical function through a chain reaction of positive effects.”

How? First –  subjects developed more positive age stereotypes. This strengthened their positive self-perceptions. And this improved their physical functioning.

This was not the first study to find that older adults have much to gain from exposure to positive messaging. One study found that subliminal self-help could counter habitual negative thinking. (Levy et al, 2014)

As Levy and her colleagues report, “We examined, for the first time, whether positive age stereotypes, presented subliminally across multiple sessions in the community, would lead to improved outcomes.”

In this case, 100 older individuals were exposed to positive messages about aging. Interventions occurred at 4 1-week intervals. They compared the effects of non-subliminal and subliminal messages. What did they find?

Levy and her colleagues report, “The implicit intervention’s impact was greater than the explicit intervention’s impact.”

This means that messages received subliminally had a greater impact than messages received with conscious awareness.

subliminal messages male-gymnast clapping chalky hands out front of him creating a cloud of chalk all around him

Subliminal Messages Give Athletes the Extra Edge

Another recent study at the University of Kent also found that subliminal persuasion works. This time the study focused on high-performance athletes.

The researchers flashed subliminal cues, including action-related words, to athletes exercising on stationary bicycles.

The study’s results affirmed a key finding: “Subliminal visual cues can impact athletic performance.”

Now the research team is taking their research up at notch. They speculate that new technologies, including “smart glasses,” might provide subliminal cues to athletes.

If you can enhance athletic performance with subliminal suggestions, what else can you do? (Blanchfield et al., 2014)

Still skeptical?

If you are, you’re not alone. Until recently, many scientists also continued to doubt the impact of subliminal self-help.

They were skeptical for a single but by no means insignificant reason. They couldn’t observe the effects of the phenomenon on the human brain. Guess what? Now they can observe these effects.

subliminal messages computer image of a mans shoulders and head in space with a sunburst of yellow shooting out from the top of his head

Stunning New Technology Expands the Science of Perception

Today, advanced neurological imaging technologies lets scientists see into the brain. We can now study the impact of various phenomena on the brain.

In the case of subliminal perception, the results are astounding.

In 2007, the University College of London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience initiated a study. Their study sought to investigate an important question. Is the brain affected by images we are unaware of? To carry out their research, they used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging). (Bahrami et al., 2007)

In the end, the researchers discovered that that the answer is yes.  The subjects’ brains responded to the items even when they were not conscious of them.

Okay, but why does this matter? What does it tell us?

The study’s findings are important because they challenge a longstanding claim made by American psychologist, William James (1842–1910).  James wrote, “We are conscious of what we attend to and not conscious of what we do not attend to.”

But now this new study offers solid evidence that we are also conscious of what we are not attending to.

As Dr. Bahrami, the lead researcher on the study, explains: “What’s interesting here is that your brain does log things that you aren’t even aware of and can’t ever become aware of. The brain is open to what’s around it. So if there is ‘spare capacity’, for attention, the brain will divide that resource to subliminal activity.”

Yes, this means that messages we are not even aware of do affect us. It also means that the potential exists to rewire our brains with messages, even if we are unaware of them.

subliminal messages a picture of a lone tree in a arid landscape with a computer generated clear glass head imposed over the tree with a rainbow colored brain inside of itHow Subliminal Messages Actually Rewire Our Brains

There is Growing Evidence that subliminal messaging is real. It affects our self-perception that can even effect our level of financial success.

Using advanced imaging technologies, we can even see the effects of this messaging.

But this still leaves a big question. Exactly how do subliminal messages work?

The human mind has two main parts — the conscious and subconscious mind.

The conscious mind is associated with our waking hours.

By contrast, the subconscious is a 24/7 engine. You got it. Our subconscious is always working, even when we’re resting. What does this mean?

It means that the subconscious can record information even when we’re not paying attention.

As British researcher Larry Hart reports in his 2006 study: “Stimuli which are not consciously perceived or directly experienced can influence cognition”. (Hart, 2006)

But the subconscious mind is not without its own filters. Repeated information is more likely to stick than information only encountered once.

And this brings us to the question. How the subliminal information is received below the threshold of conscious awareness?

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a subliminal audio message or a visual subliminal message. These messages still Impact who we are and how we act in the world.

Okay, but if we’re not aware of receiving these subliminal messages how do they change us?

Again, recent scientific research holds the answer.

Scientists now know that exposure to certain activities and messages create new neural pathways. You can rewire your brain by playing a video game over and over.

You can also rewire your brain by listening to a message over and over.

This recent finding is nothing short of groundbreaking. It means that exposing the brain to certain visual or audio stimuli has a Major Impact.

Just like you might rewire an old house, you can now rewire your brain. In both cases, there are benefits. Rewiring an old house can make it safer and more efficient.

Rewiring a brain can also have positive effects. But there’s a difference. You rewire your house by hiring an electrician.

You rewire your brain through repeated exposures to certain stimuli.

So let’s say, the house that is your brain is sluggish. Let’s say the house that is your brain is a bit depressed. Maybe, the house that is your brain is stuck in a rut. Everything you look at looks like a bad idea.

Risks you were once willing to take now seem doomed to end in failure. Sure, your friends tell you to keep a positive outlook, but you’re brain tells you to be skeptical.

You once had a positive outlook and look where it landed you?

If this is you, you’re not just stuck because you’re feeling down. Your brain has become hardwired for failure.

But what if you could rewire your brain by creating new neural pathways?

What if this new neural pathways were powerful enough to bypass the dead ends?

What if you could rewire your brain for a positive attitude that creates life-long fulfillment?

The good news is that you can.

A 2009 study supports this concept. We’ve all heard, “To get people to behave in a certain way, the idea for such behavior must first be planted.”

In short, once an idea is planted in your mind, you will be more motivated to follow through on the idea.

The study found this to be true. As reported, “The results of the experiments showed that motivation for carrying out certain actions occurs when the action matches an existing deprivation or has a positive association.” Put simply, embedded thoughts affect behavior. (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, 2009)

subliminal messages a silhouette of female body standing with arms out stretched filled with positive words set against a yellow sky and a dark ocean

The Proven Effectiveness of Subliminal Messaging

The evidence is compelling. Subliminal messaging is real and effective. Used in the right way, it has the power to transform our lives.

There’s a growing body of research in psychology and neurology that supports this conclusion. Better yet, this form of messaging has the power to change how we perceive the world and ourselves.

Two types of research support the affirmative conclusions about this method of messaging.

  • Experimental laboratory studies measure participants’ self-perception and performance following exposures to subliminal information. These studies reveal that positive subliminal persuasion enhances both outlook and performance.
  • Neurological studies use advanced imaging technologies to track brain activity during and following exposures.

These studies show that subliminal communication has as much do with physiology as psychology.

That’s right. We’re talking about real and observable changes in how the brain is wired.

Combined this research puts to rest earlier skepticism. But there is 1 lingering question: How can we use subliminal perception in a positive way?

Why are messages that work without our conscious awareness more effective?

Researchers have long recognized the positive use of subliminal messaging. Back in the early 1980s, Dr. Lloyd H. Silverman, a research psychologist for the Veterans Administration, started using subliminal tools.

As he told the New York Times, “not only does the subliminal information affect behavior, but it can also be used to enhance the effectiveness of therapy and to stimulate learning.”(Brody, 1982)

Thirty years later more researchers are confirming Dr. Silverman’s message. There is compelling evidence to support the powerful effects on mental abilities of subliminal audio.

In subliminal treatment procedures, the benefits of subliminal audio are clearly stated.

Swingle reports auditory subliminal stimulation “can affect emotions, problem solving and memory, aesthetic judgment, task performance, general arousal, and interpersonal behavior.” He adds, “From a clinical perspective, these findings suggest some exciting possibilities.”(Swingle, 1992)

Another study on subliminal audio messages also found powerful effects, but with an interesting twist.

As he reported, “Patients using the subliminal audiotapes did not show any improvement…until they had been exposed to the tapes for more than 15 hours. At that point an analysis of improvement as a function of exposure to the subliminal tape showed a significant change, improved daily mood scores, and enhanced the therapists’ rating of therapy.” (Urban, 1992)

As Michael Urban emphasizes, these studies, among others, “represent support both for subliminal auditory perception as a physiological phenomenon and for the presentation of a subliminal stimulus via the audiotape medium.”Subliminal message computer generated image with a mans bald head the left side filled with rainbow waves listening to ear buds with a silhouette of a man standing with arms out stretched over head with a yellow sun over his head with rainbow waves on top and below the images

Subliminal Affirmations Bypass Negative Messages

Don’t kid yourself. In today’s information saturated world, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is also easy to become inundated with negative messages.

We’ve all heard these messages and have taken some of these messages in.

  • You’re not working hard enough.
  • You’re not making enough Money.
  • You’re not fit enough.
  • You’re too old.
  • You’re too unaccomplished.
  • You need to buy this.
  • You need to do that.

Subliminal self-help has the power to cut through the negativity. It has the power to transform us at our core. It has the power to rewire our brains for Success. What’s best news in this story? It does this without taking up any extra time, energy or emotional bandwidth. What does this mean to you?

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