I’m one of those people who, after an experience with others is over, will take time to go back through the exchange and evaluate how things went. More often than not, I cringe at things I said or did and really want to call out for a “do-over.”
Of course, it is too late.
What are these little mannerisms or characteristics that scream for “do-overs”? They are things about me that I wish were different. It makes me wonder what is the composite picture of me that others see?
Really, what makes me, well, me?
I have things in my past that still haunt me and I would change in a second if it were only possible. Disloyalty. Gossiping. Judging. Rudeness. I can go on, but I’ll stop there to try to save a shred of dignity.
Chances are you can do the same thing. I won’t ask for your list if you are willing to gloss over mine and move on.
I think everyone who knows me would agree that I can work on not gossiping. I have hope that I am not destined to be a gossip all my life. I can change what is coming naturally to me. I start by setting goals each day and keeping track of how many times I slip up and want to hear and share something juicy.
If over time the number of occurrences goes down, then that would have to be progress. Right?
Can I also train myself to take a breath and count to ten and really evaluate if my next action would be loyal or not? Yes, I absolutely can. It takes work, and I will fail more than I succeed at first, but I will begin to succeed. Over time, it can replace what I did naturally with what I have worked for and learned.
So far, you are most likely nodding your head and saying “Yeah, so?”
What if the thing I want to change about me is the same thing that is something that you really like about yourself and want to celebrate?
Somehow, then it becomes offensive. Others may feel that I am saying that it is a bad thing and they must change too. After all, if I can change…
Not so simple anymore.
We live in a society where people seem to work hard at finding things to be offended and outraged at. Sometimes I wonder if we really do it to keep other people busy defending themselves so they don’t find things about us to be offended and outraged at.
Kind of a “beating them to the punch” principle.
However, people who live in glass houses…
I’m not a scientist or a doctor, but I have certainly experienced, for lack of a better word and in an attempt to keep it completely non-medical, “brain wiring” that makes feelings and impulses very, very real.
I think this brain wiring can cause all sorts of impulses.
Impulses of things that may take us out of the norm, impulses of things that could get us into trouble, impulses of things that we find great pleasure in, impulses of things that don’t fit into our vision of the life we want, and so on, and so on, and so on.
I know many people think that those in situations like these should just be a little tougher about it and get over it. After all, they don’t have a problem with these impulses.
I vehemently disagree. If your brain sends the signal over and over and over, it gets pretty hard to “just ignore it”.
Why are some people so hooked on gambling while others can walk through a casino and never put a nickel in a slot?
Why do some people have the drive and determination to become an Olympic champion, while others are happy watching from the couch?
Why can some people drink alcohol and stop at will, while others simply have to have the whole bottle and then some?
Why is smoking appealing to some people and to others it is repulsive?
Why do some people feel such a need to travel and see the world and others are completely happy living in the same town all their lives?
Why do some people live monogamous lives very happily while others can’t seem to stop straying outside the relationship?
Why are some people sexually attracted to the opposite sex while others feel the same toward their own gender?
Why do some people see themselves walking into a lunchroom and shooting everyone in sight?
We don’t all have the same drives, the same wiring and connections, the same results. That is what makes the world such an interesting place where people are growing and learning and changing.
I think that we come with a pretty unique set of wiring that helps to make each one of us a unique, wonderful individual. DNA being so exclusive may help support that thought.
My “brain wiring” sends me messages that it is good to hurt others, it is mandatory that I hit my head, and that hallucinations are indeed real. That is part of what makes me, me.
Does that make me a bad person? I certainly don’t think so.
But after living with these things, I find that I don’t like them. I don’t want to be that way. In my opinion, if I acted on those brain signals, I think I would be doing bad things. It goes against my code of what is right and what is wrong.
I have the responsibility, then, to go against my wiring and do what certainly does not come naturally.
Do I have the choice to work towards that? I emphatically declare YES.
By that same logic, the gambler can seek a life away from the game, the quantum physics genius can try her hand at being a circus performer, the alcoholic can work towards sobriety, the Olympic champion is allowed to become a school teacher, the artist could study to become the quantum physicist, and on and on.
And the person with mental illness can try to live a life of peace and quiet.
What would happen if all the psychiatrists and psychologists and doctors and experts in my area of the country decided it was best for society that they don’t help me accomplish what I want out of life, but that I had to accept that I was seriously mentally ill and I needed to always be on medication and my life would always be lived in a small parameter of experiences?
It’s certainly true that this scenario may be the only possibility for someone like me.
I can’t help it.
We each have the responsibility to figure out what our wiring is, if it adds to our life or if it detracts from it, and then move forward with a plan.
Please don’t misunderstand. There are some things we can’t eliminate from our lives, no matter how hard we work or wish. Wiring is wiring.
I will always have the wiring that I have.
It’s how I choose to respond to it where I find the freedom.
I want more out of life than what my “wiring” may dictate. I want to be in control. I want to choose what makes me, me.
I am so grateful that the psychiatrists and psychologists and doctors and experts that I work with ask me what I want to accomplish, what direction I want to go. And they help me get there.
It’s hard though. It’s really, really hard.
I think that others may want to choose more than what their “wiring” may dictate. I think they may want to be in control. I think they may want to choose what makes them, them.
But it’s hard isn’t it. It’s really, really hard.
Some are going to make it farther in gaining control over their wiring than others. Some aren’t going to seem to find much of a difference.
It’s about how far you make it toward your own goal.
And the happiness that you find along the road.