Sunday, December 11, 2011

on getting off auto-pilot

Most mornings I wake up at 6:45 and I get out of bed and do things in a pattern: I check my email, I meditate, I shower, I dress, I pack my lunch, and I leave by 7:30. I'm able to do this because, for the most part, I'm on auto-pilot. I know how much time each step takes, and like an unconscious little soldier, I make sure to get them done in their allotted minutes.

This works well to get me out of the door efficiently, but on weekends, when I have the morning to myself, I do things completely differently. I wake up and putz around, check my email, make some coffee, maybe shower, maybe meditate, it doesn't matter, there's really no pattern to it. Auto-pilot doesn't kick in, and the days are all very different.

Weekdays are efficient, and weekends are fun. Not news to just about every non-self-employed person out there, but I'm trying to find a way to split more of the difference.

Two years ago, I challenged myself to do things differently. (Read more about it here.) Part of the experiment was to get myself unstuck from some negative self-chatter habits that were making me miserable, and part of it was to wake myself up out of auto-pilot. While this was important for my relationship with myself, I'm finding it important in my relationships with others, too.

December is all about "newness" and one of the practices I'm bringing to the month is one I learned in my class at the School of Practical Philosophy (new semester starts in January): meeting others as if for the first time. The idea is to drop all our preconceived notions about others, to drop our expectations about how they will react, and to just meet them as if we knew nothing about them. I like this practice because expectations are really just a set up for disappointment, and when I meet people with an idea of how they'll treat me, they either prove me right or disappoint me. When I don't have that expectation, who knows what'll happen?

In the past I've found it easier to be more forgiving of strangers and people I'm meeting for the first time than it has been for people I've known my whole life. It was always comforting to believe that my sister would tell me what I wanted to hear when I called her, but I find it easier now just to not have that expectation and instead make myself as clear as possible. If I didn't know her, I wouldn't have the expectation, so it's only fair to treat her as well as I would treat a stranger, right?

One of my favorite songs is by a Brooklyn band named Hem, and the lyrics are:
There's a lazy eye that looks at you
And sees you the same as before

Where are your eyes lazy? Where are you on auto-pilot? And what can you do differently to wake up and meet people as if for the first time?

1 comment:

  1. I love this practice - thanks for reminding me to try to have a beginner's mind! But I'm having a little problem - 45 minutes and out the door?!