Before we get started on these patterns of negative thought that get us into so much trouble, we need to discuss the two realms of the mind: the conscious and unconscious. Sigmund Freud once famously remarked that the human mind is like an iceberg: ten-percent of it rises above the surface to what we perceive, yet 90% of it resides under the realm of conscious thought.
It's one of those aspects of psychology that often throws people for a loop, because by definition it's difficult to imagine what we aren't conscious of. Since many people don’t understand it, thinking about the subconscious also tends to conjure up associations of paranormal type activities or Voodoo magic, which can seem at first to be more along the realms of imagination than science. Yet unconscious thought processes of the mind are anything but an abstract idea. They comprise a very real, scientifically measurable portion of our brain activity. In fact, our lives are grounded more in unconscious associations than they are conscious thought, one of the things that so interests neuroscientists. (Ayan, 2008) So it would be prudent for all of us to become more familiar with those shady areas of the mind that elude our conscious examination.
The sources of unconscious thoughts