Understanding psychology is not easy, first because we are taking about human behavior, and human beings, are really complex! Second because the nature has provided us the unconscious mind.
The mind is divided in three states, the conscious, the preconscious and the unconscious. The conscious state of mind is, to explain it, the awareness by our perception of the world outside as the well as some mental functions that we are aware of. Lets say we are thinking all the chores for the day, the angry I feel, or how afraid I feel for some test, the way I will dress, the project I have to finish today, or the headache I have, the diet I have to follow, or my dreams, or how lonely I feel. So, the conscious is the clear awareness of my thinking, feeling, my surroundings, believes, motivations, clear action and deliberative oriented.
Now the unconscious, using the definition of the oxford dictionary, is the part of the mind which is inaccessible to the conscious mind but which affects behavior and emotions. Let us see an example: I know I am considerable overweighted, I know I have to diet and exercise…, I clearly know what to do, I am conscious about the health benefits, and the nice feeling of being in my weight, but for some reason I can´t be disciplined. Another example, I consciously know I want a partner to be committed in a mature and healthy long term relationship, but why do I always end up with the same type of people?
So, we have, at some point, experienced this kind of outcome, like I know what I want, what I need, what I wish for, but for some inexplicable reason I just can´t get there. I don´t get the degree, the job, the partner, the success or just the type of life I wish for; so then we think about unconscious reasons, motivations or reasons.
Why is important for us to know this? because this part of the mind plays a determinant role in our behavior, and the worst part, we do not have access to it. Through psychoanalytic therapy we are at some point, focused to find the unconscious reasons beneath the behavior that is bothering us.
On the biological, cultural and early learning, we know that the unconscious processes have helped in the adaptive system through our living time on earth, so in nature we are provided soon after birth, the imitative abilities, which the result is a tendency to act in the same way as people around you, so it gives us good adaptive sense, for example with strangers, or in physical behavior like gestures posture, movements, so it helps unconsciously either to bond with others or protect ourselves. Amazingly, the cultural knowledge, as language, norms and values, are absorbed during early childhood, and learnt by mere imitation.
So the unconscious evolved as a behavioral guidance system for adaptive purposes, which are directly connected to behavioral mechanisms.
Feel free to share your thoughts with us!
If you want to know more go to: https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/unconscious
Video: https://www.ted.com/talks/antonio_damasio_the_quest_to_understand_consciousness (available with translation subtitles)