If I asked you what is your operating system what would you answer?
I’m not talking about the software that manages the hardware for the computer sitting on your office desk.
I’m referring to your mental software. You know – the underlying reasons you think and do what you do.
This post was motivated by a recent visit from a relative whose name will remain anonymous for obvious reasons. The aforementioned person is a kind, gentle person but does seem to look at life holding a glass half full while standing at the edge of a cliff.
We hadn’t seen this relative in some time so the conversation moved quickly from topic to topic. The dialogue was directed more at my wife with me on the peripheral playing the role of silent witness. 15 minutes into the conversation I realized I was squirming in my seat and at about the 20 minute mark I was in the bedroom looking around seemingly without a reason for being there.
But there was a reason.
Something pushed me out of the chair to find refuge in another part of the house.
I was verbally pushed from the chair with phrases like:
“I’m frightened to death!”
“I’m bad at…”
“That scares me!”
Now if we played a guessing game and those were the only clues as to what was discussed, what would you assume the topics of discussion were?
No they were not about warfare, bankruptcy, or serial killers in the neighborhood. Instead they were about real ominous things like food choices and school programs and a vacation down south.
I would consider myself a positive person, not to the point of being a Pollyanna but negative talk obviously makes me feel physically uncomfortable and repels me on more than just a subconscious level.
I’m not going to venture into the world of energy and vibration in this post but everyone will tend to know someone like this.
I feel bad for these people.
Most, if not all don’t even realize the verbiage they spew. They get labelled (behind their backs usually) names like ‘Energy Vampires’, ‘Debbie Downers’, Pessimists, Chicken Little.
These are the people who look at a rose and only see the thorns.
A long time ago I was told that we have two basic emotions.
Love and Fear.
When I first heard this proposed I quickly thought that sounds extremely reductionistic.
But the more I thought about it the more it seemed plausible.
Lets use a common scenario of someone wanting to lose body fat. What would the operating system driving it?
From a fear based perspective it could involve:
Fear of getting a disease?
Fear of not fitting in thus fear of rejection?
Fear of not finding a mate?
Fear of death?
Fear of judgement of others?
Now from a position of Love based:
They love their body and believe it deserves the best.
They love how alive they feel and feel a sense of accomplishment when they lose body fat.
They love life and want the only body they have to last a long time.
Both Love and Fear can be used as effective driving force.
If you are being chased by a bear the fear of being killed likely kicks the body into motion for survival. However, the love of sprinting may not be sufficient enough to avoid being on the wrong end of a bear lunch.
Fear in this case is a great motivator. No doubt fear helps in those times of survival and fight or flight.
But do we want to live in a perpetual state of red alert?
If we look at the hormones that tend to accompany that state such as adrenaline and cortisol then it should be obvious that these are not hormones we want continually be flowing.
Like I said earlier most are unaware of the gloom they sprinkle into most topics.
Why so oblivious to something that can clear a room and repel others?
Could it be a result of modelling a parent who was similar in mindset?
Polarizing off another sibling who was extremely positive in their outlook?
Fitting into the work tribe by complaining about work and the boss just like the popular people?
Is it part of human nature to look at the negative?
Maybe it is but if you understand the nocebo effect then you need to ‘watch yo mouth.’
The modelling of a parent or parent figure is common because everyone seems to have the experience where they say something and it sounds eerily similar to their parents dialogue. But just because they were your parent doesn’t make what they said correct. A healthy attitude would encompass questioning your beliefs and where these beliefs were introduced and fed.
Having the ability of self awareness is a tremendous tool but also unfortunately rare.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
It would seem unlikely and difficult to partake in self reflection while expecting trouble around every corner.
If you are unsure of how you communicate during the day do not ask friends or family because 9 out of 10 times they wont give an honest answer. Better yet, get a audio recording machine (maybe some apps will do the trick) and put in your pocket or desk for a few hours for a couple of days.
Play it back and observe the operating system driving your communication.
If the operating system is not where you want it to be then look at why.
Too much news watching? As we know the news is not the epitome of optimism.
Are you surrounded by negative friends? Family? Work?
If the statement, “You are the average of the 5 closest people in your life” then how is their outlook.
Fear manifests as an emotional and physical straight jacket. It holds you back from new experiences.
I’m not suggesting you become an objective zombie. Just become more aware of your thoughts and maybe the root of those thoughts. It can go along way in your outlook on life, your experience, and your perceived reality.
“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.