Don’t Underestimate the 5% (Of Your Behavior That’s Not Automatic)

This morning I was on a jog, and I was listening to a YouTube video of Dr. James Lipton talking about the subconscious mind. He repeated a statistic I have repeatedly heard: that 95% of what you do everyday is a result of your subconscious programming.*

This is very similar to something I have heard Dr. Joe Dispenza say. In fact, I recently read Dispenza’s fascinating book “Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon.” In it, Dispenza describes how routine and predictable most people’s behavior is. According to Dispenza, the body/mind system is designed this way. Regarding our routine everyday experiences, says Dispenza, our bodies have become wired to handle things automatically:

Basically, it means your body is now on autopilot, running a series of programs… You’ve done this routine so many times that your body automatically knows how to do certain things better than your brain or conscious mind. You just switch on the autopilot and go unconscious, which means you’ll wake up the next morning and essentially do the same things all over again. In a very real sense, your body is dragging you into the same predictable future based on what you have been repeatedly doing in the same familiar past. You will think the same thoughts and then make the same choices that lead to the same behaviors that create the same experiences that produce the same emotions. Over time, you’ve created a set of hardwired neurological networks in the brain and you have emotionally conditioned your body to live in the past–and that past becomes your future.

“Becoming Supernatural,” Joe Dispenza, pp 30-31


Have you ever been driving down the highway and suddenly became aware, as if for the first time, that you were doing it? “Wait, where have I been the last ten minutes?” you exclaim to the empty car. That’s an automatic program. Ever asked yourself whether you brushed your teeth that night, licked your teeth and concluded, “yes that tastes like toothpaste–I must have brushed!” ? That’s an automatic program.

Many of our automatic programs serves us, such as those above. Other examples include getting up to go to work, taking care of loved ones (for us, it’s feeding the cats in the morning and night), or even completely unconscious programs that occur in our bodies, such as blood flowing, our hearts beating, and our toenails growing.

All of these actions happen automatically! Sure, we can certainly stop to pay attention when we brush our teeth, but we don’t really need to, do we?

I can imagine that reading a statistic like the one I quoted above could seem discouraging. “You mean 95% of what I do is automatic? What if I have habits I want to change about myself? Is there any hope of ever changing?”

Beneficial automatic programs are great, but what about the not-so-beneficial automatic programs?

If you have ever felt this way, believe me, I get it. I used to be a worry-aholic. Yes, I’m not entirely sure that’s a real word, but I promise you, it was a real experience! I indulged in worry for years. I was so distracted by worry that I suffered through many unhappy experiences. I often felt like I was wallowing in a sea of worry. It was so familiar to me that I had forgotten that there was any other option.

Needless to say, this really sucked! Eventually, I started to consciously wean myself away from such things. Those efforts to change my thinking have picked up a lot of steam over the last few years, especially since around when I began my 365 Day Blogging Project. I am happy to say that I have become much more consciously able to direct my thinking towards positive and wanted things.

The bottom line: don’t underestimate that 5% of you that is consciously able to control and create your life. If you read my blog, you know I’m a big fan of chipping away at a result you want. No matter how small your efforts may seem, keep doing it long enough, and who knows? Someday you may be truly astounded at the results you produce 🙂

For myself, I chipped away at the old me to create a life I love and am expanding every day. Not only did I cure myself of the old worry habit, I also became: a regular runner, recently completing 20 miles; a regular reader who has read nearly 150 books in the past five and a half years; an intermittent faster; a successful composer, song-writer and writer; and a happily married man 😉

… so far!

Not too shabby for utilizing that 5%!

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