"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
~Victor E. Frankl
Recently I received a lovely text from a new reader of BLUSH: Women & Wine. She raved about it, and thanked me for writing it. It was the kind of text that makes your day. Replying back immediately I texted "Thank you from the bottom of my heart..". Thankfully, I took the time to re-read my text before sending it, and realized that it had autocorrected to "Thank you from the bottles of my heart." Not sure if there was some sort of genie-in-the-bottle magic going on, but after I stopped laughing, I changed it back and sent it.
That crazy little text exchange got me thinking about the whole idea of autocorrection. Installed on our smart phones, this application is intended to increase efficiency and accuracy. Over time it seems that the app on my phone has gotten to know me and what I am thinking, and it often completes the words before I've had the chance to finish writing them. (Perpetual note to self - always check texts before sending. Especially after a glass of wine.)
We have an autocorrect application installed on our own inner hardware. It is programmed to autocorrect our thoughts, inner dialogues, and internal responses to external messages, and it does this so quietly and quickly that we don't even notice. Someone asks us a question and we hear it as criticism. We receive a compliment on our appearance, and it gets transposed into self-judgement about our own bodies. A friend shares a hurt or a problem, and we hear that it is our hurt to soothe or problem to fix.
A few recent examples from my own inner text stream:
My husband asks me if I've remembered to leave money for the wonderful woman who cleans our house, and I hear him questioning my management of the situation.
At the end of a workshop, the client asks me if I'm going to facilitate the upcoming one, and I hear her hoping for someone better to show up the next time.
I hear from a friend how great I look, and I think how grateful I am that spandex leggings hide a multitude of sins.
An adult daughter shares something hard or painful in her life and my thoughts are: A) How can I fix it? B) It must be my fault. C) If I were a better mother, she wouldn't have to deal with this. Or, of course, there is always my personal favorite - D) All of the above.
Left unnoticed, our autocorrect apps receive regular updates that are programmed by our long held but rarely questioned beliefs, and our old stories that we retell but never rewrite. Those beliefs and stories are embedded deeply enough that we don't even see them. We just believe them. It is amazing how quickly our thoughts autocorrect into life-limiting messages of self-judgement, shame, fear, and doubt, and are then transmitted with blazing hi-speed inner-net access.
Time to uninstall the app.
Here is what is working for me, and maybe it will for you too. It all starts with awareness. To get rid of autocorrect I have to quit living in auto-pilot, so I am working to catch myself in the act of sending all too familiar but unexamined messages on my inner web. Catching myself in the act gives me just enough space to catch my breath before hitting the send button. In that space there is an opportunity to send myself life-giving messages of grace, love, courage and truth.
It kind of feels like old-school dial-up.