The Power of Your Subconscious Mind Summary and Review

by Joseph Murphy (Ian McMahan revised)
Has The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy been sitting on your reading list? Learn the key ideas in the book with this quick summary. Envision an iceberg floating in the Arctic. Though you can see parts of it above the surface of the water, the majority of it is hidden beneath. This image can be applied to your mind as well. The part of our minds that we are aware of, the conscious mind, is what is seen above the water. The other part, our subconscious mind, which is at least equally as large, lingers below the surface. How do we tap into a seemingly inaccessible part of our minds?  This question is addressed in The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murray, a classic book from the early 1960s that we will be looking at in this summary. You will learn how to unleash the potential that is hidden away in your subconscious mind in order to tackle a wide array of issues. You will come out the other end feeling both happier and wiser.  Over the course of this summary of The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy, you’ll learn the following:
  • how a doctor utilized his subconscious to lessen mortality rates;
  • why visualization is important to selling your house; and
  • why you must learn to love the boss you dislike.

Key Idea #1: The subconscious mind is susceptible to suggestions, which can be used to your advantage. 

Do you remember learning to ride a bike? While learning, it’s likely that this task required intense attention and focus from your conscious mind. But once you became more comfortable and competent, your subconscious began to grasp the concept, and pretty soon riding a bike became an automatic task.   Learning to ride a bike is a great example of conscious to unconscious learning, which is an incredible tool your brain has. To use it, you must harness the power of your subconscious by repeated positive thoughts.  For instance, in the late nineteenth century, Enrico Caruso -- an Italian opera tenor -- performed at famous opera houses throughout Europe and the United States. However, he would become drenched in sweat and suffer throat spasms minutes before he was to step on stage. Why did this happen? Well, his mind was bogged down with negative thoughts. He feared being laughed off the stage or being heckled for a poor performance. Nonetheless, he conquered his stage fright by telling the “small me,” or conscious mind, to quit interfering with his “big me,” or subconscious mind. When he repeated this meditative practice, he was able to inspire his subconscious mind to ignore his fears and negativity coming from his conscious mind, which freed up more energy for his powerful vocal chords.  The subconscious mind is an extremely powerful part of us. In fact, it can absorb and put into practice any idea you simply suggest it.  For example, quite a few experiments have been done by psychologists in which a competent hypnotist puts students into a hypnotic state prior to suggesting to them that they are indeed cats. In each experiment, the students would go on to act the part of “cat” with complete authenticity, since their subconscious minds simply accepted whatever their conscious mind thought to be true.  How about we consider a Scottish surgeon named Dr. James Esdaille. During the years from 1843 through 1846, Dr. Esdaille performed approximately 400 amputations prior to the development of anesthesia. Shockingly, the mortality rate for his procedures was quite low at just two or three percent. He attributed this success to his technique of hypnotically suggesting to his patients that they would not develop an infection as a result of the operation. This tactic was sufficient to prompt a response in both the subconscious mind and the bodies of his patients. 

Key Idea #2: The power of positive thinking and visualization can be used to realize your dreams.

In the eighteenth century, priests healed the sick by persuading them to believe that God would make them get better. This approach incredibly worked quite often. It wasn’t the work of a mysterious deity, however. The subconscious mind is a powerful healer.  Though this effect may seem supernatural, it can be explained by evidence that positive thinking can give your subconscious the power to heal disease. For instance, after one of Murphy’s relatives developed tuberculosis, the man’s son was determined to make him better. He brought his father a piece of wood he had picked up off the sidewalk and told him that it was a cross he had bought from a monk who had recently toured a healing shrine in Europe.  He told his father that even touching the cross had healed many people in the past. His father held the object tightly and prayed with it in his hand before falling asleep. Upon waking the next morning, he was completely healed.  Since the father was so truly convinced that the cross had healed his disease, no one ever broke the news to him. In some cases, breaking the illusion might cause the disease to resurface. Similarly, if you simply imagine something you desire, that desire might become a reality. An applicable example comes from the author’s teachings at the Church of Divine Science, which was a weekly radio show with millions of listeners.  The author talked about the so called mental movie method in one of the episodes of his show when he was advising people about selling their houses. To use this method, you must create a mental image you desire, and hold it in your mind until your subconscious makes it a reality.  A home seller from the example above used this method. The first step for her was to gain confidence that she had set an appropriate price for the sale of her house. Following this, she would envision herself celebrating the close of her home, and kept that image in her ming as she dozed off. As she began to fall asleep, her subconscious would latch onto this image, and would connect her with a buyer.  A number of listeners sent in thank you letters to the author since this technique worked so well in the process of selling their homes. 

Key Idea #3: Tremendous results can be achieved with visualization and passion. 

Now that you know how visualization can play a role in selling your house, let’s look further into the power of the subconscious. The process of visualization is a powerful tool, and can even help attract money. To do this, you only need to picture your desired end goal, and then allow your subconscious to do the rest.  For example, let’s look at the story of a young Australian boy who wanted to become a doctor and a surgeon, but didn’t have the money to start himself down his path. For months, every night before he fell asleep, he would envision a medical diploma he had earned hanging on his wall.  One day, a doctor who knew this boy saw that he had potential, and taught him how to sterilize instruments and give injections. This work eventually paid for the boy’s medical school tuition.  Your subconscious can also help you overcome jealousy, which causes a feeling of inferiority which can block your path to wealth. For instance, observing another person cash a sizeable check may make you feel envious, but your subconscious can help you change this reaction.  You should wish greater wealth upon other, which your subconscious will pick up on. This will tell your subconscious that you believe you deserve the same. Remaining jealous doesn’t help anyone, and you’ll likely hinder your own potential for financial success.  Lastly, pairing visualization with passion can reap massive benefits. Let’s look at an example. The author knew a young pharmacist who loved what he did and often thought about opening his own pharmacy.  He brought his focus to creating mental images of himself filling prescriptions, and subsequently started a new job with a major pharmacy. Here, he was able to pursue his passion and make money as well. He moved up the ranks to manager, and after four years of hard work, he saved enough money to branch out and open his own pharmacy. By using passion and visualization together, the young pharmacist was able to ascend to his dream, realizing his ambitions. 

Key Idea #4: Allow your subconscious to advise your choices in order to attract the kind of romantic partner you want. 

Did you know that a third of our lives is spent sleeping?  That time is not lost, however, since lots of things occur while you sleep. Your body restores its energy, heals injuries, and digests what you have consumed throughout the day. If your physical body is so active while asleep, you’ll be able to guess that your subconscious is busy working through the night as well.  The intuitive powers of your subconscious can amazingly guide you through decisions. One of the author’s radio show listeners, a woman from Los Angeles, is a perfect example. She was offered a job double her current salary, but in New York City, and she couldn’t decide if she should accept it. She looked for guidance from her subconscious, and trusted that an answer would come to her while she slept.  Before going to sleep, she meditated and then dozed off. In the morning when she awoke, she had a gut feeling that she shouldn’t accept the job. In future months, her choice was validated, seeing that the company who had offered her the job had filed for bankruptcy. The intuition of her subconscious mind had guided her appropriately.  Your subconscious can do much more for you in your sleep. If you focus on the qualities you’d like to find in a romantic partner, it might even be able to find that person for you.  For example, the author was familiar with a teacher whose three ex-husbands were all weak and passive, though she desired the opposite qualities in a partner. What was going on here?  In this case, the teacher’s mascuine, dominant personality had attracted much more submissive partners. She used her subconscious to mentally construct the image of her ideal partner every night before falling asleep, and was able to change the pattern. She accepted a job as a secretary in a doctor’s office, and immediately recognized that the physician, a healthy, successful man, was the partner she had been imagining. They married, and lived life together happily. 

Key Idea #5: Lose the negative thoughts that are blocking your way to happiness. 

Finding a great deal at a flea market or picking a 20$ bill up off the street is a recognizable sense of joy for almost everyone. This type of happiness is fleeting, though. Fortunately, you can get more happiness in your life simply by changing your thoughts.  You must first choose happiness in order to be happy. As an example, a salesman once asked the author why he had never been recognized for his work, though he consistently outperformed his colleagues. He believed that the sales manager didn’t like him, and blamed this for the misstep and poor treatment. His thoughts were angry and hostile toward his boss, and these eventually got in the way of his progress.  He then realized that he could simply choose happiness, and shifted his mindset to a more positive place. He constantly wished health and success upon his boss, and practiced visualizing his manager congratulating him on his sales numbers with a handshake and a warm smile. Following this, his boss called him and promoted him to sales manager. The salesman received a large raise in the process, too.  Negative thoughts can be highly detrimental and can even prevent you from succeeding or achieving peace of mind. For another example, let’s look at one of the author’s associates who worked day in and day out, neglecting his family and causing himself high blood pressure.  Why did he work so much?  The answer to this question wasn’t immediately. But, when the employee delved deeper into himself, he discovered that he felt guilty about not doing the right thing by his deceased brother who had passed away years before. The remorse he was experiencing caused him to punish himself by working constantly and keeping himself from seeing his wife and children.  To end his suffering and begin the healing process, the first step was to forgive himself. He now works regular hours and spends plenty of time with his family. 

Key Idea #6: Overcome your obstacles and stay young by replacing your fears with positive thinking. 

Were you scared of monsters hiding under the bed as a kid? If so, you probably remember how relieving it was when your mom or dad turned on the light and revealed that everything was safe and nothing was under your bed. In truth, fears, even in adulthood, are constructed on false thoughts, and this terror can be assuaged by counteracting them.  Many adults fear failure and powerlessness. For example, let’s look at Mr. Jones, a man who was unable to control his compulsion to drink. SOmetimes, he would stay drunk for two straight weeks.  He felt powerless from his constant failure in his attempts to quit drinking. This fear would cause him to quit trying altogether. Eventually, he lost his family, and this made him want to face his fear. He put himself into a calm state of mind, and then visualized what it would feel like if his daughter praised him for getting sober. During this process, he was able to give up alcohol slowly over time, and reunited with his family.  Another common fear found in most adults is aging. This fear can be overcome by modifying your thought processes. After all, aging only happens when you stop dreaming or learning new skills. Staying young is simply about remaining active.  For example, an executive that lived close to the author retired at the age of 65 after spending the majority of his life working and learning. Instead of being afraid of retirement, he saw it as an opportunity to do and learn things he wanted to, such as taking a photography class, traveling the world, and becoming a lecturer on the subject of aging.  His enthusiasm for his newly acquired time allowed him to continue learning and growing, which kept him young at heart. This inspired his mind and body to do the same.  Another example would be the author’s father, who at 65 set out to learn French, and later became a specialist on the language five years later. Following this, he began to study Gaelic, and taught that language until his death at 99 years of age. 

In Review: The Power of Your Subconscious Mind Book Summary

The key message in this book: Your subconscious mind is constantly working, and harnessing its power for your benefit is possible. Your subconscious can help you tackle any issue in your life and can improve both your emotional and physical health. This entire process works by visualizing success and getting rid of negative thoughts.  Actionable advice: Use a simple technique for overcoming fear. Try a simple approach to overcome your fear, no matter what the fear is. Begin by spending five to ten minutes, three times a day, imagining yourself doing the thing that you’re scared of. Construct a joyous image, complete with people cheering you on. By practicing overcoming your fear in a mental image, your subconscious will grasp the idea, and will eventually make it a reality.