Unplug? Hearing that word, our minds automatically go to a media-free day or week or simply turning off “stuff” for awhile. For me it goes to another place.
As far as technology goes, I have decided to make it a small part of my life rather than the ruler of my days. I actually still have a flip phone (yes, really!) and I love it. It fits easily in my pocket or purse and I don’t have to have it there on top of the table staring at me. I actually use voice mail rather than texts. I check my emails at certain times during the day rather than having my iPad near me so I am hearing “pings” that constantly draw me in. And the amazing thing is that as a semi-retired psychotherapist, I still have a practice and am very involved in my church and community. It really can work, I promise!
So, rather than alluding to technology, when I hear “unplug,” my mind goes to another place. It goes to getting “unplugged” from the choir in my head. You know that choir—the one that is filled with voices and regrets from the past. Voices that call out old messages any time you enter a new situation. Voices that urge you to withdraw from your pain and plant a smile on your face. These are the voices that I have spent my seventy plus years working to “unplug.”
I have learned that when I overreact to a person or situation, rather than immediately going on the defensive or attack, I take a deep breath and ask myself, “What was that all about?” I “unplug” from the situation and notice what is going on in my body. Is my throat tight? Is my stomach in a knot? Is my heart pounding furiously? As I sit with these emotions and ask, “Is it fear? Is it humiliation? Is it that old message, “I am not good enough?” I begin to identify what has me in turmoil. I ask “Is it really about this person or this situation or is it unsealed, left-over residue from the past?” And more often than not, I realize that it is still Bobbie Jo’s voice making fun of me at every recess all those years ago. Or it is Miss Redd, my first grade teacher, frowning at me and asking, “Why can’t you be like all the other kids? Why do you always ask so many questions?” Or it may still be my mother giving me “that look” (yes, even in my seventies!).
There are a multitude of voices singing in my choir having lived on this beautiful and confusing Earth for seventy-seven years. However, each time that I quietly come back to my center after a troubling encounter and ‘unplug,’ I emerge replenished in spirit as I thank my body for alerting me that there is still work to be done. As I become familiar with my ongoing patterns of behavior and what triggers me, I have found it is possible to shift from reaction to response. I can then ask the discordant voice in the choir to please step aside. It is amazing how much more beautiful my choir now sounds than all the years that the uninvited voices kept horning in and singing solos.
And, yes, they may quit making flip phones sometime soon! I have a dear friend who has offered to give me a beautiful new iPhone. I am actually thinking about it! And that will usher in a whole new learning experience of how to “unplug.” But isn’t that the joy of living, it is never too late to stop learning.