I recently came across an article in Psychology Today in which the author discussed a research study he conducted with college age students, who held themselves in high regard, where he asked the students to keep a detailed record of their mental chatter for a 2-week period.
Going into the exercise, the students expected almost 75% of their thoughts would be positive.
What both the researcher and the students were shocked to discover, is that almost 80% of the thoughts they recorded were basically negative. Unconsciously, it turned out that the students were much more critical, pessimistic and fearful than they let out in their day-to-day life.
Many of us would describe ourselves as happy, confident people. I know I would! I am definitely a “glass half full” kind of woman.
But there is the deeper part of myself, that I have to manage every single day. And it’s this part of myself that runs 95% of my life! I have a voice in my mind that is constantly telling me where I’m not enough and where and how I don’t measure up. Right now, if I stop and pay attention, I can find that voice telling me what part of my life I need to fix, improve, or change. It usually says something like, “you really need to start eating healthier today. You have gotten off track with that.” Or “Why weren’t you more patient this morning?” when my son missed the bus.
Most people don’t even know that there’s a voice in their mind speaking to them. All of the mental chatter going on in the mind is so transparent, it’s invisible, like the air we breathe. Most people don’t even know that It’s speaking to them, and that they’re listening to it.
Just like your body automatically breathes for you and makes your heart beat for you, your mind is on automatic as well. And, what you may not realize, is that the thoughts are repetitive.
They are based on decisions you made about how life works. Especially, what’s wrong with you and the reason you’re not really good enough. You made all these core decisions when you were a young child. Once they took hold, you started to see the world and yourself in that certain way. And your mind, which is like a great computer, has been running those thoughts you made up about yourself and life, like software. Automatically, incessantly, your mind converts what you notice, what you think, how you feel, to be consistent with those negative childhood beliefs.
Therefore, you are automatically diminishing yourself, or shaming yourself for what has already happened. Your thoughts throw your mind into the past. Or, you worry about what will happen about the future, once the future arrives.
And once the software kicks in, you are no longer in the present. And the present is the only place you are ever in, ever will be in, and is the only place where you can generate any control over your life.
It’s the place where you are free. The place where you can BEGIN to notice your automatic programming. It’s your own unique programming. You developed it. So, in order to truly feel the way that you want to feel about yourself, your relationships, your life, you have only one job to do. And that is the job of being a Computer Re-Programmer.
Being a computer re-programmer in your life means noticing what you installed. It means recognizing that the computer program “I’m not good enough” has been running since you were a little boy or girl. And now, it needs to be updated to 2.0.
As a computer re-programmer, it is your job to see that although the old program will still continue to run automatically, you can see when it’s running and do the update in the moment. Notice when your computer is searching for evidence to validate the old programming. The 2.0 version is about staying present. No longer paying attention to the automatic programming that has been running for all these years!
Don’t even try to change it. Just begin to notice it. Notice what happens to your mood, your behavior throughout the day, your energy level when the old programming is running. The more you notice it, the less command it has over you.
As a computer re-programmer, it is your job to diminish the control that the voice in your mind has over you. The better you are at your job, the more you will be able to practice living in the present, rather than living in your mind.
I wish you all one thing in life: Practice being an extraordinary computer re-programmer!