There is an excellent article on the Share Mindfulness website called “You are NOT your first thought: Understanding Your Dual Mind.” It discusses our being of not one mind, but two.
The summary of the article (and I highly recommend reading the entire thing) is we experience two modes; System 1 and System 2. From the article:
The short version is that we aren’t in control like we thought we were. We go through our lives thinking WE are making each and every decision, when in reality we have automatic responses which are responsible for the majority of our decisions in any given day. It’s almost as if your body is a machine part with programmed responses to stimuli… only, you aren’t 100% sure how to (re)program it.
Almost everything we do in our day is System 1, or our subconscious. This is automatic and our default mode. System 2 however is our conscious thought, requires effort and is our ideal way of thinking (see the article for more attributes for each).
Over time we rely too heavily on System 1, it runs the show and sometimes not for the better. We are quick to react before thinking and go with out initial emotional response. We need to use System 2 more often, be aware of our thoughts and take time before reacting.
This was a really eye opening article and I am sure my short version is not doing it justice. Please check it out!