What’s wrong with me? I’ve sabotaged relationships, my business is failing, I’ve gained all of this weight, and my life is a mess. Do I need medication? Am I mentally ill?“ He was sincerely distressed and desperately seeking answers.
Softly, as I leaned in toward him, I said to him, “First of all, you are not mentally ill. Secondly, you’re asking all of the wrong questions, but I can help you with all of that!”
I knew from the little that he had shared, that he needed help with his Owner’s Manual and his operating system. And likely, you could use the same help, so I am sharing about that with you this week.
What is our operating system and our Owner’s Manual? It is everything imprinted in your heart and in your brain that controls everything you do, don’t do, say, don’t say, decide, don’t decide. It contains your belief system, your “should’s,” and the way you live your life moment to moment. Basically, it is your destiny shapers.
Our operating system is a lot like what is on the hard drive of your computer. If you are like me, you simply turn on your Mac or your PC, double click on the icon that will serve your purpose, and get busy with the task before you. Never considering the operating system that makes it all work.
Your personal operating system is downloaded onto the hard drive of your brain. And it is completely installed and functioning by the time you are five, six, or seven years old.
Where does it come from? It comes from parents, extended family, significant caregivers, coaches, teachers, etc. It contains their worldview, their beliefs, their way of managing life. We all have a fully loaded hard drive. The question is … Does it serve you well? Does it propel you to purposeful living? Does it create an extraordinary life?
And why is this all so important? I cannot stress this strongly enough to you. it’s important because it informs every word you say, every choice you make, every action you take or don’t take, the and every moment of your life… It determines the quality of your relationships, your financial destiny. Not to mention the quality of your life.
Most people have some real gems on their hard drive from early on. For example, one of the gems on my hard drive from my mother is… “Love people and be good to people… And go the extra mile and showing them.” Yesterday when I walked into church, a sweet woman came up to me and said, “This morning when I came in I was thinking of your mom. She always came in beautifully dressed with a smile that lights up the room. And she would make me feel so loved and special when she greeted me. I so miss her!” I miss her too, and I’m grateful for that gem she installed in my hard drive. One of the gems on my hard drive from my father is: “Work hard, be determined, and never, ever give up or quit!”
I’m sure you have many similar things on your hard drive and we certainly want to cherish and protect those kinds of gems.
But the sad truth is, well-meaning family and caregivers install things on our hard drive that often do not serve us well and are not in our best interest. For the most part, parents and caregivers mean well. But whether you came from that kind of situation, or one that was less than ideal, or even abusive, the steps to re-programming your hard drive are the same.
I always assure people this is not a blame game, it’s not about pointing fingers. It is about identifying what is on your hard drive and whether or not it’s what you need in order to become the best you that you were created to be.
Your operating system also comes with an Owner’s Manual. It’s an invisible book about how our lives are supposed to operate, also written by our parents, extended family, and caregivers. But like most Owner’s Manuals, we rarely refer to it.
Like when you go and buy a new lawnmower. If you’ve had another one, you likely fill it with fuel, pull the string or push the button, and you are off to the races mowing your lawn. And the Owner’s Manual goes in the trash, along with the box and packaging it came in.
It’s the same with our lives. We don’t know what’s on our hard drive, and the Owner’s Manual got tossed, because we thought it wasn’t needed. But if you stay with me over the next couple of weeks you will know that you indeed do need it, and I will help you recover it.
I want to pause here and help you understand how absolutely crucial this is. Literally, what is on your hard drive and in your Owner’s Manual informs every moment of every day. And no matter how awesome your life may be or how deeply in the toilet it may be, you can have an extraordinary life. But it’s very difficult to get there without first reworking your hard drive and your Owner’s Manual, often referred to as “ transforming your mind.“
I will begin walking you through this, in almost workshop style, using the client story I opened with. I will get started with the first two steps this week, and continue next week.
To overcome any challenge and create an extraordinary life (or an even MORE extraordinary life, here is where you can start:
1. Begin to examine what is on your hard drive and in your Owner’s Manual. I know that sounds simple, but it requires some real digging in, and some work.
I would like to lead you through it.
Because most people come to me with challenges, I find that starting with the challenge is a great opening point. Hopefully you are not in a challenge right now in your life, but you can still look back to an earlier challenge and use the same process.
With my client, I asked him to walk me through what happened in his relationship. He began with his soon to be ex-wife.
He explained that for years, she had begged for connection, for affection, for him to be present with her. He said he made some minor efforts, but before Long, he was once again consumed with his business and the effort faded.
He admitted that as time went on, she would sit with him and tenderly share, obviously desperate for his love and attention, with tears pouring from her eyes. She would say she was lonely, she missed him, she felt alone and abandoned. He further confessed that he would sit with a stone face and stare blankly at her. He asked me, “What on earth is wrong with me that I couldn’t reach out and hold her? Why on earth was I such an ice man?“
I told him that we would explore his Owner’s Manual and his operating system to see where all of this originated, and then make some edits and modifications.
You may do the same exercise, filling in your own blanks. I sincerely hope you will. I have left blanks for you to do that, and have put the specifics to his situation in parentheses so you can follow along with examples.
I began to ask him some key questions about one facet of what he shared about his relationship:
- What did _________ (connection) look like in your family?
(His response: Well we usually ate dinner together in front of the TV, and we got along OK as long as everybody wasn’t arguing).
- When _________ (connection) was lost in your family, what was done?
(His response: well we didn’t talk about it to the person we had the problem with, we went and talked to a brother or a sister or to mom about dad, etc. And everybody acted pouty for a while and then it just all dissolved away I guess)
- How did _________ (Connection) get re-established?
(His response: I don’t know, maybe it never did. Maybe it’s why we all kind of drifted apart).
From this I learned, that his operating manual said very little about connection. Certainly connection is not establish sitting in front of our television. (Or on social media, or on your phone, or anything else that does not promote eye contact).
Here are the pieces of his Owner’s Manual that we retrieved:
- No one communicated directly about connection
- The way of handling things was with distance and pouting
- No one ever made efforts to reach out and establish or re-establish connection
We had three entries recovered from his Owner’s Manual. I explained that with that being in his operating system, when his wife was begging for connection, he clearly did not know what she meant. And the few times he recognized it was missing, he certainly had no guidelines for reestablishing it. And his Owner’s Manual clearly said, lay low, and let it pass, and see what happens.
Knowing these things, it’s no wonder that his wife felt lonely. And it’s no wonder why he was paralyzed, and sat with a cold stare when she poured out her heart. I’m certain that he felt like the ice man he proclaimed himself to be to her.
Please be clear that these are not excuses for his behavior, but when that’s what’s on your hard drive and in your Owner’s Manual, that’s what will happen 90% of the time.
We went through this with each part of his challenge. We went through it with:
- Affection (His Owner’s Manual said: “All that sweet stuff is for people who are pitiful”).
- His business (His Owner’s Manual said: “You just need to get a J-O-B and forget your dreams).
- His health (His Owner’s Manual said: “You only live once so don’t worry about your health”).
- His weight (His Owner’s Manual said: “Everybody gets fat after 30”).
From that one session, we recovered a healthy chunk of his Owner’s Manual and operating system. And clearly they led him to a desperate enough place to land in my office.
Hopefully you will take the time to walk through the various components of a challenge of yours and begin to learn how you are programmed.
But knowing what it says, and what is installed is only a first step.
2. You must carefully identify how these components of your Owner’s Manual and operating system have affected your life and how they have played out.
I asked him about his connection with his children. He admitted that he thought since they watched some games together during football season that it was enough connection with his sons. As for his daughter, he said he kind of left her to his wife.
Because his oldest son was preparing to leave home, I asked him if he continued that kind of connection, what kind of relationship he thought they might have. He shook his head in disappointment and said, “I guess I’ll be the dad who pays for college and that’s about it.“
When I questioned if that’s what he really wanted, the tears he choked back were answers enough.
I also went through connection issues in his business world. There was more to learn there and to see how that his Owner’s Manual view of connection has stolen much. (Like failure to nurture key business relationships).
Ultimately, he was distant from his three kids, he was losing his marriage and his business was failing. Those are major life challenges, all a result of his Owner’s Manual and operating system that had been “mis-wired” for connection.
What about you? How have the various components that you ferreted from your challenges, played out in your life? What have you missed out on? What’s been stolen?
Many people are prone to skip the step. But the driving force within that you need to make substantial changes must take into account the losses and the consequences. Take some time and write yours down using this outline:
- How has ____________ (connection) or lack thereof played out in my life?
- What has it cost me?
- What if I missed out on?
- What price have i paid?
- What has been stolen from me?
The more you pack into this piece, the quicker your reprogramming will take place. Please take some time to do this! It’s one of the key pieces of fuel that will propel you into an extraordinary life, or an even more extraordinary life!
Next week we will continue, and give you all the steps you need for your reprogramming.
My hope Is that you will share this with his many people as possible.
I remember years ago when I watched a movie I thought was a sad state of affairs: “ Stepford Wives.“ The wives had installed in them some programmed equipment that basically made them servants and robots.
It was probably disturbing to me because I was in the process of re-examining my Owner’s Manual and my operating system. I realized at the moment, that I wasn’t much different than them. I had an operating system an Owner’s Manual I was unaware of, and it was directing every move I made in my life.
My life wasn’t going as I had hoped or dreamed. I, like my client, thought something was inherently wrong with me. But I knew if this was all being directed by my Owner’s Manual and my operating system, I was determined to dive in and transform my mind (and my heart) with truths that would propel me into the purpose that I was created for! AND … I want the SAME for YOU!
I hope you will take this opportunity to heart. You so deserve it. You may have grown up in a wonderful environment, but I have never met a human being inside, or outside, of my office that did not have some programming, that if/when changed, would have served them much better.
I hope you will come next week with your work done as we begin to take steps into an extraordinary life.