Automate it, I said, and she frowned. That sounds like robots and stuff, she responded and had me off on a rant about the marvel of automating things, and how it can be robots and stuff, certainly, but also what I make automatic in my life. Like the question Does this serve me? which I’ve asked myself thousands of times since… 2012?
In fact, I’ve asked myself this question so many times, that I no longer have to ask it to answer it. It’s now something I do automatically, whenever (or at least most of the times) I experience a really strong sensation, be it anger, irritation, frustration, fear, sadness, anxiety, worry. Or for that matter extreme elation, joy, curiosity, bubbling eagerness. The script of does this serve me runs automatically, and my response has me make a more conscious decision. It gives me just enough of a pause, or a distance if you will, to be able to observe what I am experiencing and respond to the question.
If the answer is yes I keep on going. If the answer is no sometimes I keep going anyway, taking full responsibility for it, and sometimes (most of the times, I would like to think) I stop, since the pause I’ve given myself gives me a way out somehow.
Insights are amazing. They are one of, if not the best superpowers of human beings. One of the most impactful insights I’ve gotten was that I don’t have to be so hard on myself. Sounds silly almost, but I was actually about… let’s see… 35 years old when I fully got this. So for 35 years, I lived with an extremely harsh inner dialogue. But – and this is important – just because I got the insight, didn’t mean that I automatically stopped being hard on myself. You see, for 35 years, I’d very efficiently built a whole system of neural pathways on how to be hard on myself. And just because I got that insight, those pathways didn’t disintegrate. They didn’t, because neural pathways don’t. (Unless you have a neural degenerative disease of some sort. Luckily, most of us don’t.) So what I had to do, once I got that insight, was learn new ways of interacting with myself.
I was helped along by my willingness to change my inner dialogue (which definitely also affected the way I interacted with everyone else. As above, so below and all that stuff!) and my observatory powers. I started to observe myself being hard on me. At first… it could take me hours (if not days) to spot it, after the fact, that is. After a stint of that, my revelatory observations crept closer and closer to the actual situation, and before I knew it, I was picking up on my soon-to-be-harsh inner dialogue. Before it happened. When that happened, I had a choice. Harsh. Or gentle. And I could pick which route to go down. And once I started picking gentle I started to build new neural pathways, training myself into new patterns of being with me.
Now 10-11 years after that first initial insight of not having to treat myself so harshly, I’ve gotten sooo good at being gentle with me. Not soft. Not weak. Not letting myself off the hook, and never challenging me. No, not even close to that! I challenge myself so much more now that I no longer fear my internal judge! So in a sense, I’ve not just automated does this serve me, but also being gentle with myself.
Both of these are ”automated scripts” that I find truly serve me as well as those around me.