Time for a Program Update

You’ve all heard me say it numerous times before, I am an introvert. Well, never in my life have I been able to enjoy #allthethings about being an introvert than now. Thank you COVID-19. While I have zero problem staying in and not attending functions, I particularly miss our kids and my parents . In addition, what I am discovering is how busy my brain likes to keep itself.

As I was lying in bed awake the other night (I blame it on old lady hormones) I started really noticing how my brain loves to ramble and roam when left to its own devices. As I was lying there noticing myself thinking, I started paying attention to what I was thinking about and how my brain just ran from one thing to the next with no rhyme or reason. Then, the part of me that was noticing what I was noticing started to ask the question, “why?”.
As you can imagine, this just opened a rabbit hole.

By engineering, I am not a worrier. I am the “if you need anything let me know” person. I assume if people need me, they will indeed let me know and by-in large If they don’t, I assume they’re fine. I was not lying there worrying about anyone or anything, I was just running around in my mind.

What came from this paying attention with the part of my mind was the fact that I tend to use fun things in my future to give me motivation for working hard now. With that said, I have always had trips or experiences planned for myself ahead of time and greatly value my time spent in places I love, whether new or experienced, and doing things I think are fun. It doesn’t matter the cost, or the extravagance, it’s about having something to look forward to. An evening out at a nice restaurant, a trip to Europe, canoeing the BWCA, hanging out with my friends, getting to go play in the woods, they’re all equal in my book. I just need something to look forward to.

Enter COVID-19. I’m not so thankful on this one.

The beauty in this is that the more I looked at my need to have something to look forward to, the more it made me wonder why I’m like that. Of course, this lead me to more contemplation and ended up in an awareness that let me know it was time to upgrade an old program. For years I had lived in a stressful environment and I recognized my mind was still using the old program of “if I can just get to here, I can be ok” in order to help me stay focused and care for myself the best I could. I started deliberately finding things to look forward to in order to keep myself going and not fall into depression or fear. Lying in my bed a few nights ago, I realized I had never turned that program off.

We all do it. We develop a system of beliefs and behaviors that become habits we eventually don’t even notice we’re doing. It’s how we brush our teeth and drive our cars and tie our shoes and all that kind of simple stuff. Those programmatic activities are all stored and handed in and out by our habitual mind. The mind is masterful at taking something that works successfully once or twice and turning it into a forever program. Think about addictions. There you have it.

Without conscious awareness we just keep repeating our internal programs. Generally, it’s not until they start making us uncomfortable that we can begin to recognize something is not working. For me, that “ah-ha” moment came in the middle of a restless night. I was still yearning for something to look forward to in order to feel motivated to do my life in the now. My life now is nothing like it was back then, the program has no necessity now, but there it was, creating discomfort because right now, there is no way to plan anything. And, therefore, nothing to look forward to.

I thought about how I wanted to approach this; do I turn it into a program to look forward to something in my daily life like taking a shower? My morning cup of coffee, which I love for the experience, not the caffeine, is one of those little things I look forward to the minute I wake up. “Do I want to install something like that?” I asked myself.

I debated for a moment what it would entail and the end result. What I want is to feel good about my life moment to moment; to be in it, and not constantly looking ahead for the treat dangling out in front of me. I want to fully appreciate the really nice life that I have and feel a greater level of gratitude for it. I think gratitude, but I genuinely want to feel it.

With all this said the answer seemed clear. I really just wanted to remove the program all together. To recognize the aspect of myself which still hung onto it believing it’s what keeps her going, and to gently and lovingly help her let it go so she can see with clarity that she can be here now (and not still coping in the past).

So, I did. I realize I make this sound like it was snap of the fingers and it was done. It took a bit, but in the process of bringing up the truth and allowing myself to really feel what it was, the former part of me recognized we wanted the same things. She wanted freedom from the old, and so did I. When the parts agree, it’s so much easier.

The next thing I know it’s morning, and while a bit groggy, I felt amazingly well rested. My husband rolled over and snuggled in…I think I purred out loud, but I’m not sure.

Program upgrade complete.

Blessings Galore, Anne

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