Theories of the unconscious mind varied widely between physiological groups, from the unconscious being a vault of traumatic memories, socially acceptable desires and painful emotions to the idea that the unconscious mind is merely a collection of the cognitive process that has no affect on our behavior and aren't aware of. Luckily, we now know through extensive research and a significant amount of proof that the unconscious mind is no less controlling, flexible, complex, action- oriented or deliberative that its coequal.
On the surface lies consciousness, which are those thoughts that are anything you become aware of at any moment. You're conscious of the fact that you're reading this article, maybe of the lawnmower outside, the conversation you're having, your perception of the world and sensations around you are all a part of the conscious experience. Without it, you would feel nothing, nada, nicht, nien. Like a zombie.
The unconscious is chalk full of urges, memories, feelings and thoughts that we aren't fully aware of. Inside the unconscious realm the material consists mostly of unpleasant or unacceptable emotions like anxiety, pain or conflict.
How can the unconscious affect us?
So how can the unconscious affect us? A small example would be a slip of the tongue. Perhaps you've called a new girlfriend/ boyfriend by your ex's name? Some would say this is an override of the unconscious, bringing up the fact that maybe you're not quite over a past lover or doubts about a new relationship.
Another example would be that you might hate someone, but your subconscious will tell you that hatred isn't acceptable; so instead your brain tries to solve this conflict by mentally making up reasons that they've done something wrong to remove your feelings of guilt.
What about our dreams?
The subconscious can also make itself known in your dreams. In the dream world your subconscious may even speak a bit louder due to your lowered ego response allowing repressed material to emerge in various distorted forms. In order to to distinguish your dream from what you remember to what the latent content (underlying wish) is, you could follow these steps.
The first would be Condensation, the connection of various thoughts/ images into one. For example, a dream about a building maybe be the condensation of ones security or their impression to the world.
Step two would be Displacement, when we turn the real thing we are upset about into someone else entirely. For instance, a person may despise their boss, and dream of suffocating a pet of theirs.
It's important to remember that all other information, feelings, memories and thoughts that are shameful, against our own unique morals, publicly acceptable, embarrassing, painful or distressing is locked away in the dark abyss of our unconscious, constantly oozing and gradually influencing every step we take. Those feelings are then translated so they can be dealt with in a way our brain sees as reasonable and effective to achieve reaching our deepest desires.