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the mind as a computerHow can the analogy of a slow and virus-infested computer support us to understand how our minds work, and how are directly responsible for creating states of crisis within ourselves? How can we use the exact same analogy as a tool to empower ourselves with in moments of a life crisis?

Firstly, a note on the notion of a life crisis: As I see it at the moment, there are two types of life crises. The first one is where unexpected external events happen that catapult you into a state of crisis within your body, mind and being. This might be triggered by a divorce, or by the onset of illness in yourself or a loved one, or by any other external event that forces you to reevaluate your entire life and who you are within it.

The second type of life crisis is where something happens inside yourself, within your mind, body and being that equally forces you to have to reconsider your entire life. It could be exhaustion that causes you to have to reevaluate your line of work, or it could be an experience of not having any feelings for your husband or wife and wondering if you should stay with them.

The common denominator in the two types of life crisis is that the events taking place are unexpected, and ‘rock the boat’ of the life that you had taken for granted or come to rely on and find stability in. As such, the experience of being in a life crisis is something that prompts you to reevaluate certain aspects of your life and yourself within it.

In my case it is a combination of the two types of life crises, but the ‘crisis’ aspect itself pertains more to the second definition. The external events that have played out in my case aren’t events that are necessarily ‘destructive’ or ‘bad’ in my life. For example: I am currently 7 months pregnant and being pregnant has brought on a lot of new experiences within me. It has triggered or intensified fears that existed within me already, but that I hadn’t walked through. Secondly, there have been some changes in my relationship with certain people in my life, which in turn has prompted me to have a very long hard look at myself and who I am within my life.

Within all this I saw a cool analogy as to explain how I got to the point where I am at now, where I cannot go on, or continue as I have been in the past:

Imagine that I am a computer. I have my body, which are the hardware and my mind, which is the software of the computer. Now – how do many of us handle our computers (or smartphones or tablets or other devices)? What do we do when we get those notifications that we need to update a program or that we might be affected by a virus? Many of us flat out ignore them. Why? Because we’re busy playing a game or watching porn, or we are sending that important email or scrolling through our Facebook feed or we are busy buying shoes. We can’t be bothered with the computer’s prompts for us to take action – to make decisions – to take responsibility. We’ll do it later or we hope the computer somehow will fix itself.

At the very bottom list of our considerations is that it could possibly be our responsibility to ensure that our computer is up to speed and in good condition. Why? Because most of us don’t even understand our computers. We couldn’t be bothered to. We just want to be able to use them without the hassle of having to have an engineering degree or a burning passion for programming. Is that too much to ask for?

As the days progress, the computer starts getting slower and slower. Suddenly some of the programs won’t open. In the beginning you just ignore it. At some point you start to wonder what is causing it, and in the back on your mind you remember that there was that notification that you kept ignoring every time it popped out, but still; you can’t be bothered. You’re busy right now and it really isn’t a good time to have to drop everything to fix your computer, plus who knows what many issues could be hiding in there, and you have no idea how to fix it. So you leave it be and you get used to waiting for programs to open or waiting for the computer to reboot when it crashes. Sure, you loose some documents once in a while that you didn’t save in time, but it isn’t a catastrophe.

Then one day you need to install a new program; let’s say it is Photoshop, and it is really important for your career or your business. For whatever reason, it is something that has to be done. But you can’t. The computer won’t install it, however many times you try. It keep coming up with an error message that your computer is so outdated or compromised by virus that it simply can’t handle the new program effectively. In fact, for the new program to work properly, the computer has to be in tiptop, optimal condition.

And then it hits you: unless you go back and deal with all the things you ignored for so long, you won’t be able to install the new program and you actually might risk loosing your job in the process. So now you HAVE TO do it.

The computer is so compromised that it will take time,  you have no idea how long, and you have no choice but to go through it program by program, learning how to understand it and how to delete or upgrade the programs or install new ones when needed. There is no more “Can’t be bothered” because you don’t have a choice.

This is where I am at in my life at the moment. I am at a point where I have to install a new and very important program (a new baby!). I am at a point were I have allowed myself to ignore and dismiss certain inner ‘notifications’ telling me that there were points within me I needed to take care of. I’ve abdicated responsibility for the programs that exists within me, by saying to myself that they are too complicated, that I just don’t understand them or that I’ll take care of it later – exactly as many of us do with our computers, compromising them until we can’t work on them anymore and we either have to reinstall an entirely new operating system or send them for maintenance because we can’t fix them ourselves.

When you try to take shortcuts in life, they very quickly become detours, perhaps because you don’t know where you are going, or because you get distracted from following the path you are on. Therefore, the quickest way to any destination in life is often to walk it straight through. It is the same with this point.

I couldn’t be bothered with taking care of things along the way, because I was existing in a La La Land in my mind of “everything is fine” and “I can’t be bothered right now” and so now I have no choice but to walk the entire point through from beginning to end, all at once, whereas I could’ve otherwise handled it one point at a time.

This is obviously also partly what causes the ‘shock’ that I experienced as a life crisis, because I had totally stuck my head in the sand in terms of being observant about what was going on within me, so when everything started resurfacing, it was unexpected to say the least.

If we go back to the computer analogy it means that it would have been much more practical to simply click on those notifications prompting me to take care of the computer as they popped up, instead of waiting until the whole thing became compromised and I could barely work on it and had to go over it in its entirety.

The other point I want to bring up here is the point of self-responsibility. In the analogy I used before with the computer, there is this abdication of responsibility within hoping that the computer will take care of itself OR in a worst case scenario that I can send it to someone who can fix it – which often leads to the whole cycle starting all over again because the I am still not taking self-responsibility for taking care of my computer, and so will again run it down to a point of near destruction, before once again taking it to an expert who is by the way making a decent living off of people like me who do not take care of their things.

Regarding my relationship with my computer, which is an essential and important life line in my life, I realize that I have to take responsibility for learning how to take care of it, at least in the most basic ways that I can. It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with taking it to an expert, if I can’t boot it or something has happened that I can’t fix, but there’s a big difference between doing that, and then totally mismanaging it in a state of abdication of responsibility.

The same goes for my mind, my body and my life. The primary responsibility for all of that is with me, and if there’s something I don’t understand about myself, I have a responsibility to learn and develop that understanding so that I can take care of myself in the best way possible.

This is the process I am busy with and while it is not necessarily a lot of fun, I am grateful that it has opened up now and that I have the opportunity to give myself a fresh start.

The wonderful thing with computers is that there is most often nothing wrong with the hardware itself (unless it is old, broken or doesn’t have enough RAM) which means that it can go from being barely functional to being in tip top shape simply by one taking care of upgrading, removing, reinstalling programs and software. We can do the exact same in our own minds – and yes, it does sometimes require a systematized and structured and intense process of ‘healing’ or ‘programming’ – but it can be done.

Learn more about this way of living: