Tuesday was Crazy Hat Day at seminary, just a fun little distraction as we head into finals. As I sat in one of my classes, with a floral party hat on one side of me and a jester hat on the other, under which serious theological conversations were taking place, I fell in love with my life all over again. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. I hope you have too.
My therapist, the relentlessly buoyant Dr. V, says we all have records in the jukebox in our heads that have been there for years, put in by our past experiences, some of them going back to when we were very young. We might not have had control of it when those records were put in, but we don’t have to keep listening to them as adults. Whenever we find ourselves thinking something that we know is based on past experiences or old habits, we should stop and tell ourselves to change the record.
Change the record.
Change the freaking record.
It’s so simple. At first, I thought it was one of those easier said than done things, but it really isn’t. It’s almost become a habit with me now, like when I’m reacting to a situation based on something out of my past (let’s say, oh, maybe… my divorce? *cough*cough*). I will catch myself, pause, and think “Change the record.” And when I react to a situation as it is, in and of itself, everything changes.
Of course it doesn’t happen immediately, but it is actually kind of fun to do once you learn to recognize when it’s going on. I didn’t realize how much time I had spent listening to the old records until Dr. V brought it up, but now I love recognizing it, yanking off the old record, and putting on something new.
It does help to have a good support system. I was explaining the change the record theory to The Rev over lunch recently.
“I don’t know how easy it will be to stop myself,” I admitted, using the chips off his plate to load guacamole into my mouth because mine were long gone. “I’m half Celtic, half German. I didn’t come with brakes.”
I wasn’t even sure how much he was listening until some time later when I had gotten a professional review of my novel, The Bacchae. It was probably 95 percent great, with the other five percent focused on what could be improved.
The old record came on and started playing that song that goes “You’re not good enough, haha, you can’t write anything more complex than a want ad, you washed up old hack.” And no sooner had I started singing along than The Rev said “Stop it. Just stop it.”
Change the record.
It’s a process. But as I settle into my new role as a parish pastor, I am being called on more and more to help others with their problems, to be a listening ear and offer spiritual support. I can’t imagine a better time for me to have learned the skill of how to change the record. Not to mention that some of them were starting to skip anyway.