Solitaire lurks seductively in the Games program of my computer, distracting me from my work. I’ve had the Games surgically removed by a techie in the past, but since I’ve upgraded to Windows 7 neither he nor I can work out how to do that. So, every time I sit down at my computer – and sometimes when I’m nowhere near a computer - I fight the urge to fire up the solitaire. When I lose the fight I can waste hours manically moving cards from one pile to another. I justify it on the grounds that I’m exercising my brain.
I noticed the Games program has a Parental Control button. That intrigued me but I didn’t open it because I don’t have a child to control. Or do I? What if the part of me that’s addicted to solitaire is my inner child?
There is a familiar feel about playing solitaire. When I was about six years old I used to feel this way when I was hiding from my mother, knowing I had to clean my room. There it is, the child.
So while I’m pretending to be keeping my brain fit playing solitaire, what I’m really doing is hiding out, just like a child, from doing more important things.
I wondered if what I needed to find was my inner parent? If the inner child can run amok, perhaps the inner parent can find a way to regain control.
I stopped smoking long ago and I’ve more recently given up drinking alcohol (there’s an addictive gene lurking in there somewhere) so I must be able to stop playing an electronic card game, I told myself. Searching on-line for something else, I stumbled upon a diagram of a parent/child model.
In this model, there are two kinds of parent, the critical parent and the nurturing parent. The role of the critical parent is to minimize risk by protecting, defending, denying, avoiding etc. This explains the impulse to solve my solitaire problem by hiding or exorcising it in some way, to protect my (young) self from temptation. The role of the nurturing parent, on the other hand, is to maximize possibility by accepting with compassion and optimism and seeking wonder and experience.
I had already decided that hiding or ditching the Games program was not the answer (I’m really good at finding and re-installing it again). Instead, I told myself, I need to exercise self-discipline. But how would I do that?
What would the nurturing parent say?
‘Maximize possibility! Accept yourself with compassion and optimism. Seek wonder and experience’.
I know that maximising possibility begins with creating a future that’s inspiring. I already have a purpose - reconnecting leaders with their own wisdom, passion and humanity – that truly inspires me. When I remember it, that is.
I also know that we can choose how we want to feel, at any given time.
So I decided I wanted to feel joyous and fulfilled.
As soon as I focused on my purpose, I started to experience a different energy. I listed a few things I really wanted to get done and completed my first task before breakfast.
I was inspired. I finished everything on my work list AND hand-washed a pile of jumpers, peeled and cooked two kilos of quinces and a batch of oatmeal biscuits, solved a work problem I’d been putting off for a week and wrote this blog. I felt energized, creative and productive.
No more solitaire. It drains my energy and leaves me feeling dull and guilty.
I’ve accepted with compassion my own human failings, nurtured myself (and the dog) by taking a long walk on the beach and I’m feeling joyous, fulfilled - and quite grown up again.
PS I wrote this nearly 3 months ago and I haven’t played solitaire since.