Monday, March 30, 2020

System Defrag/Regularly Scheduled Maintenance

For years I've been perfecting this explanation for my husband's benefit, and hope that it might help a few of you as well.

Here's my self-talk:
I have a big, smart, busy, important brain, and
It needs a lot of space to do its thing.

But in reality, my brain is more like a wild rabbit:
Hop, hop, nibble, hop, hop, twitch, hop.

It's true that I have a very busy thought-life and much to think about.
It's not true that what I have to think about is more important than anything or anybody else.
When I get up in the morning and I require however much time it is before I can speak to others, it's not that I think I'm special and/or that your need to speak at me is not special.

It's that I need to order my thoughts.

While I am sleeping, apparently my brain runs amok and I wake to find muddy tracks all across my previously neatly ordered thoughts.  It's as if my four-wheeling self stays awake all night doing donuts in the office of my administrative self.

If I do not order my thoughts at the start of the day, then who knows which of my selves may run the show for the rest of the day.  Have you ever met my pierced and tatted biker self?  No?  It's better if we keep it that way.

In all truth and seriousness, it really is better for me and for the world around me if I order my thoughts at the start of each day.  It's simple, really.  Picture a defrag:

When I look at this, I see the red as irritability/irritation.  If I must process new information before I've worked through and ordered what I already know, then I tend to feel pressed and therefore, flustered, irritated.

However, if I take the time to smooth everything out, choose my priorities, toss what's actually unimportant, then my brain is much more likely to respond like a well-oiled machine: smooth, and quick, and (more likely) accurate.

Realizing this about my own self ~ that daily quiet time is essential, not trivial ~ helps me to treat that time more intentionally and not take it for granted.

For me, this works best at the very start of the day for what I think is an obvious reason.  However, there are times throughout the day when I know that my thoughts are becoming jumbled ~ a natural response to tension ~ and when I can, I simply step away momentarily.  In other words, I've learned to say, "I'll be right back.  I'm just going to think about this quietly for a minute." 

It's not always possible, of course, but using my relationship with my husband as an example, it's difference-making when it can be practiced.  His natural reaction is to dive right into whatever needs an answer, and often enough, I do my best to go with him into that.  But we've both realized that if it's necessary to have a solitary interlude before making a decision, the outcome is almost always better than if we'd worked against our own selves.