Your Psychological Immune System and Endless Do-Overs

One of my favorite experiments to suggest is for people to watch their internal slate clear. blank slate

So Mary notices herself nervous about her job interview. In the thick of her nerves, they are all she can feel. Then, she notices at some point mid-interview…or maybe it’s after the interview…that she feels different. Calmer.  A bit later still, she’s completely calm, back to what feels like home base.

Mary notices that she didn’t have to do anything. Some ideas of things she could do floated through her mind…she could go for a walk to break up the nerves, prepare for the interview questions, have a drink afterward to help her mind settle down…but she didn’t end up doing any of those things, and she still found herself back at home base

Tom sets out to notice too. When he gets frustrated with how his day is going, everything seems to go wrong. Work is frustrating, his girlfriend is frustrating, he drops his keys and forgets his coffee…all very frustrating.

At some point, he notices that he feels different. Nothing in particular happened, but the frustration has lifted a bit. Later that night, Tom has dinner with friends and they fall into one of those laughing-so-hard-your-stomach-hurts fits. Where did the frustration go?

Willow—my five year old—tells her little brother that she’s never going to play with him again. Four minutes later she’s dressing him up in her princess gear, explaining the rules of their next game.

Notice how swiftly and naturally your internal slate clears throughout a day. It will be difficult to miss that the fundamental design of the human mind is self-clearing. 

You can’t stay in one feeling if you try. The mind is self-correcting. Your psychological immune system ensures that you always find yourself back at home base.

Even when it looks like your break-up had you devastated for a month, or your depression had you down for a year, there were moments of clearing. In that month or that year, the slate cleared. You got an infinite number of do-overs.

After one of those do-overs, you may have innocently recreated your old feelings. When you tell yourself, “I’m depressed”, or you remind yourself “He never loved you”, you mindlessly recreate the feelings your circumstances seem to warrant.

But even then, the feelings always fade. They come and go, then you recreate them or you don’t.

When you observe your own psychological immune system in action, and you see how naturally and effortless your feelings come, go and change before your eyes, you foster a deeper understanding of the design of the human mind.

It becomes difficult to get caught up in any experience you have because you’ve seen how certainly it changes.

You always have another do-over coming.

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