The reality is that the majority of the factors that govern what we do or don’t do and the decisions we make operate on a subconscious level.

One year when I purchased my first air-rifle I discovered this fact.  Prior to purchasing the air rifle, one of the first rifles I had shot was a high-power hunting rifle with a wood stock and a metal butt plate.  When I went home from the range that day, I discovered that my shoulder was turning blue from the bruising of firing that gun.  Consciously I didn’t make too much of the pain of shooting the gun or of the fact that it had bruised me.  Yes it hurt some, but that’s what shooting a high powered rifle was like, wasn’t it?  Perhaps it even made me feel tough.

The reality of how shooting the hard-hitting rifle had impacted me came years later when I tried shooting my new air rifle.  While the air rifle has no measurable recoil and no chance of hurting my shoulder, I discovered in the absence of the noise and shock of the high-power rifle that I was flinching with every shot.  Consciously I had no fear of the air rifle hurting me.  In fact, I had hardly had even acknowledge to myself my fear of the high power rifle hurting me.  Yet being hit by the butt of the high-powered rifle had created an unconscious protection mechanism that continued to operate subconsciously even years later, even when shooting a gun with zero percent likelihood of hurting my shoulder.  As long as I flinch as I fire the gun, my ability to shoot the gun accurately is limited.

This dynamic exists in every area of our life.  When we face a difficult or traumatic experience, even if we don’t acknowledge it as such, we may develop a protection mechanism that operates without our knowledge and impacts our decisions later in life.  The protection mechanism is a “decision” to operate a certain way to protect oneself.  Many object to the use of the word “decision” because they don’t remember deciding anything.  It just happened.  Since it happened subconsciously or automatically, we could call it a subconscious decision.

Most of these “subconscious” decisions protect us from danger and are life savers.  However others can come back to hurt us deeply or hold us back from being who God created us to be.  These “subconscious” decisions are the roots of many things in life that hold us back from excelling.  Whether or not we were aware of how the circumstances of our life might have impacted us, we can be alert to observe the “flinch” and discover how the past is impacting us now.