You pick up one of those refurbished desktops at an auction for $500. All sales final. You go home thinking what a bloody fantastic deal! You boot it up and ten minutes later, the Windows login. Hmmm… that won’t do. Specs were good, it shouldn’t be this slow. You run some diagnostics and can’t seem to find the issue. Ok, reformat that bastard. Still slow. You think a couple of upgrades should do the trick. A new CPU, some more memory, a new hard drive. Booyaa!
You turn the sucker on. Login screen greets you eight minutes later. What!? All that money and you improved upon it by two minutes! You begin to feel sweet, sweet rage welling up inside. Fine! It’ll be a big investment, but you think a new motherboard should do it. You start thinking a brand-new computer would’ve been wiser. But, now you’re in deep. So, the moment of truth comes. The computer boots up, but now gives you a warning about the hard drive not being readable. Yarrgggh! A few days pass. You replace the hard drive yet again and load the OS yet again and the darn thing is still so slow. Should you take it to a tech?
I’m getting enraged just writing down this scenario, one that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. But, it’s an excellent example of a certain all-too-human phenomenon called the Sunk Cost Fallacy. Simply put, your decisions are tainted by the investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.
This desktop computer is an example of well-intentioned investments that just don’t pan out or yield anything of value but rather than cutting your losses and moving on, you continue to invest more and more into it.
Life works much the same.
The raison d’etre of this blog is about cutting those losses that you’re unwittingly carrying around within you and as a part of you. Your perspective, your reactions, your conditioned thinking, and all the ways you keep maintaining them at all costs, thinking it unwise to abandon or begin anew.
I chose the computer example above for a specific reason, where I could’ve easily relied upon a house or a car as convenient examples. I happen to be a technical writer and have worked with technology and software for the better part of two decades. I find our mind-body complex to be highly similar to a computer and so, find it useful to employ this analogy. Your body is very much like the hardware that helps the computer do its information processing, while your mind is akin to the software that is the operating system and the many applications you execute.
And it’s all designed to be pretty darn automatic. Do you ever find the need to do some programming on the side while you run MS Word? Nope. You open the application and you just use it. Your mind and body work very much in a self-reinforcing feedback loop, so that you have to intervene very rarely in the way the whole thing comes together. Those thoughts that swim around in your head, they influence what you experience in your physical body, i.e. hormones/feelings/sensations/mobility and in turn, that physical experience dictates the quality of the thoughts that arise in that mental box behind your eyes. And so on.
I believe this is the biggest investment that you carry around with you. Your entire state of consciousness is one you’ve accumulated over the course of your life. You were born, you started behaving and acting a certain way, your caregivers responded to that in turn and established all those things you take for granted now. Your sense of self-worth, your perceptions of competence and capability, the level you feel you can reward yourself, how you punish yourself, what threatens you, how much you need control, the whole shebang. In short, what makes you… you! Your caregivers probably did their best the only way they knew how and of course, were conditioned themselves to be a certain way. Your culture, race, religion, the social forces at work, and everything that went into your own origin story was pretty much decided before you could even actively have a say in things.
Now, you respond to life the only way you know how. However, this programming runs deep. The operating system is entrenched. The applications execute automatically. The hardware runs invariably without much say on your part. This includes all those negative things you feel within you. The pain, stress, anxiety, sadness, those glitches in an otherwise smooth-running machine. You accept them as part and parcel of the experience. You blame others, the world, and wish for things to correct themselves. You hope for an intervention from the outside. Miracles. Breaks. But, at the end of the day, what’s going on within you is ultimately what decides what you feel and experience and how you respond.
In this blog, I hope to help expose the software that is so intertwined with your physical state. Re-visit those cherished values and that perspective of yours. See how it impacts that hardware of yours and how those feedback loops are happening well outside your field of awareness.
The only thing I ask of you is to keep an open and curious attitude and the most I may ask of you is to do some basic paying attention. Ultimately, I want to help you cut your losses and abandon failing investments in yourself in spite of how much you’ve put into it. Ways of thinking and approaching life that are happening simply because that’s all you’ve known. I hope to help you realize the benefits inherent in looking at stuff another way. Some of these benefits you may stand to realize right away and so validate this re-writing of the software. Others may take longer.
So, without further ado, let’s re-program the heck out of this machine.