Freelance by Jen

Consider me the No More Tangles of your writing needs.

Today, and maybe this is TMI guys, but I had my mind STIMULATED.

Why not come right out with it, you know? I mean, if I can’t be real with you guys, what am I even doing?

No, seriously, what am I even doing? That’s not rhetorical.

HAHA! hahahahaha!

But no, I set my alarm for 8:15 a.m., and also for 9:15 a.m. because I’m trying to be responsible, and I was out of bed before 10 a.m. My first thought was, ugh, what did I eat last night? and my second thought was, I feel like shit, and my third thought was, what a surprise, it’s me facing the consequences of my own actions.

And every bit of that is my personal Groundhog Day. I know this. But yesterday, I read that 95% (yes, that was the real statistic, from the National Science Foundation) of our thoughts are habitual. Which means that precious few of our thoughts are original to our daily lives. And that makes me so sad.

So it’s no wonder that the meetings I had this morning felt mind-blowing, even though the topics were fairly routine – press releases and open-door staff policy implementation. Because these are things that I don’t think about every day, but also things that I’m actually passionate about, they triggered some long-dormant, far-from-habitual-in-2020 reminders that there ARE things I’m good at doing, there ARE passions that I have, and I CAN do stuff aside from look at pictures of frosting-forward foods on IG/play Yahtzee.

So then it becomes a weird in-between, habituation vs. striving for relevance, a vicious back-and-forth of “BOLD NEW FRONTIER YOU MAKE THE DAMN RULES JUST DO THE THINGS” and “Am I bored, or hungry?”

And maybe you, like me just now, are thinking, “So what? That’s called being human” or “So what? There are real problems in the world, how about focusing on those?” Either way, you’re right. Honestly, we’re all striving to be better versions of ourselves, all the time. That’s what gives us faith in each other, knowing that, deep down, we all want the same things, regardless of culture, or race, or hobbies. We all want to be loved and accepted. And that’s also our downfall.

Recently, I came full-stop with myself about my past failings as a stepmother. Without going into all of it, I was beating myself up about how I had failed in the past and the relationships I had lost as a result. I’ve done this for years, and it’s as much a part of my psyche as, well, anything. Somehow, though, the 5% wiggled through with a reminder of a story that has surfaced off and on in my consciousness over the years, Andy Weir’s (of The Martian fame) The Egg.

The Egg is a story short enough that the synopsis would almost eclipse the story itself, but the moral is that we learn as we grow. With every stumble, with every fall, no matter how brutal or public or demoralizing, a lesson is learned. Not new information, not mind-blowing insight, but still something that can penetrate our 5% in new ways.

How it penetrated my 5% was in looking at my very present 11-year-old twin stepsons. You can’t do anything about what you lost. But you can make it right with what you haven’t. I hadn’t lost them…yet. And so I began, right that minute, to repair our relationship. And, because they’re 11, the progress made in two short weeks is crazy.

And we have those breakthroughs. The issue lies in transforming them from the 5% to the 95%. Here’s an exercise that may help.

Full disclosure, this is not my idea at all. I found it while searching for multiple sources on the 95% habitual thinking stat because I could not believe that was real upon first read even though of course it is. I found it on mission.org from author Prakhar Verma, creator of DesignEpicLife.

  • Grab paper and pen, or your writing app of choice.
  • Make a list of all conscious negative thoughts. Every fear, insecurity, insult, stressor, irritation – no matter how irrational they feel or look, write ’em.
  • Make another list. Or column, if you’re feeling fancy. For every negative thought, write something positive. Something you like about yourself. A great time in your life. Even if it was something with a less-than-positive outcome, write something you loved about that time. This will be harder. Do it anyway.
  • Do it again tomorrow. And the next day. I use a great app for this, from The Science of Well-Being, called ReWi (linked in Apple because I’m Apple-y), a brain re-wiring app. I also like pen and paper, though, because there’s something about feeling the words that I love. (Also I grew up before computers were affordable, which is probably the real birth of this method.)

Let’s do this together. And let’s hold each other accountable. We’ll all backslide (in fact I’m already fighting myself on it), but omg we’re not perfect geez. Love you, mean it.

Song of the day: The Weight, The Band. I go back to this again, and again, and again. It’s safely in my 95%, and for good reason. Take a few minutes for yourself, and listen.

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