Difference Between Conscious and Subconscious Mind

Main Difference – Conscious vs Subconscious Mind

The terms ‘Conscious’ and ‘Subconscious’ are variably used to define the state of mind in psychology. Owing to several similar and unclear features they share, it is highly confusing even for experts in the field to identify which is which. As far as the theoretical aspect is considered, the human mind is divided into three states known as conscious mind, subconscious mind and unconscious mind. Several research studies have been carried out to differentiate and analyze these individual terms with regards to how they define human attitudes and behavioral patterns. The main difference between conscious and subconscious mind lie on the basic human functions and mental processes; conscious mind is responsible for rationalizing and logical thinking whereas subconscious mind is responsible for involuntary actions.

Most spiritually developed people have identified the basis of these two terms and improve the potential to establish a link between them by continuous mind training methods, which are known to enhance the quality of life.

In this article, we will address,

1. What is Conscious Mind? What are its functions?

2. What is Subconscious Mind? What are its functions?

3. Differences between conscious and subconscious mind – Different human functions and mental processes controlled by eachDifference Between Conscious and Subconscious Mind - Conscious vs Subconscious Mind Comparison Summary

What is Conscious Mind – Definition, Functions

Conscious mind is defined as a part of mind which is responsible for rationalizing, paying attention, logical thinking and reasoning. For example, if an individual is asked to add one and one, it is the conscious mind which will work out the calculation and give the answer.

It is also known to control all our day to day activities done on a voluntary basis. It is called the gatekeeper of the human mind. It also keeps track and communicates with the outside world and inner self through receptive sensations, thoughts, speech, pictures, writing and physical activities.

However, according to latest research studies, conscious mind have found to be highly dependent on the subconscious mind which decides on how humans function as a whole.Difference Between Conscious and Subconscious Mind

What is Subconscious Mind – Definition, Functions

The subconscious mind is defined as the section of mind which is responsible for all the involuntary actions and accessible information which are being received in the day to day life. For example, the continuous process of breathing, blood circulation, and heart beat are known to be controlled by an individual’s subconscious mind.

More importantly, if someone starts paying attention to his breathing pattern and try to take control over it, then the conscious mind will come into action for some time even though it cannot be carried out for a long time.

Also, all our emotions are controlled by the subconscious mind. This is why we feel negative emotions like sadness, fear, and anxiety even without wanting to experience them in response to various circumstances.

The subconscious mind is also known to be the storage place where individual beliefs, attitudes, and memories are stacked up. This is thought to be the reason why affirmations have no potential to make sense and can never improve a person’s beliefs. However, affirmations are made at a conscious level but tend to be filtered by the subconscious mind which is why they usually don’t go hand in hand with the belief system. Therefore, the ideal way to alter someone’s belief is to convince the conscious mind in a rational way to acquire the logic behind it, so that it can be stored the subconscious mind as a logical fact.

Interestingly, subconscious memories can be brought easily to the level of consciousness either with a strong or specific trigger.

Main Difference - Conscious vs Subconscious Mind

Difference Between Conscious and Subconscious Mind

Human Functions 

Conscious Mind: Conscious mind takes control over logical and intellectual processes.

Subconscious Mind: Subconscious mind has the control mainly over physical functions.

Examples of Functions

Conscious Mind: Decision making, details about life, planning, strategy making, communication through language and skills of organization, are some functions performed by the conscious mind.

Subconscious Mind: Breathing and digestion, memory, feelings, emotions, beliefs, attitudes and gut instincts are some functions that can be controlled by the subconscious mind. 

Accessible information

Conscious MindConscious Mind does not depend on accessible information. 

Subconscious Mind: Subconscious mind depends on accessible information. For example, a person can walk down a lane to his home while talking on the phone without the real need of concentrating on where he is heading to. All this happens, because the directions to his familiar places are stored accurately in the subconscious mind which can easily be brought to the level of consciousness if necessary.

Mental Processes

Conscious Mind: The conscious mind is known to be responsible for one’s awareness about an incident at present which includes some of the internal mental functions and external happenings. For example, a person can concentrate on the wind blowing out the window while paying attention to his own pattern of breathing. 

Subconscious Mind : The subconscious mind is not aware of both  internal mental functions and external happenings. 

Image Courtesy:

“Exercise Plays Vital Role Maintaining Brain Health” by A Health Blog (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

“Image 2” (Public Domain) via Pixbay

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music