How Are You Programmed?

 It’s hard enough to find an error in your code when you’re looking for it; it’s even harder when you’ve assumed your code is error-free. ~Steve McConnell

Why do we behave as we do?
Doug doesn't understand biology, or any science... or numbers... or diagrams...

Doug doesn’t understand biology, or any science… or numbers… or diagrams…

We all carry around a set of rules that are similar to the programming used to operate electronics. This is great for tasks such as breathing, eating when hungry and running from lions.

These rules are the operating system for the physical organism that is us… Thumbs up for them.

When we are stressed or have to make quick decisions without time for thought, we rely on our rules to get us through. Problems occur when we have rules that were added by others and even by our own, self limiting beliefs.

Our rules determine how we react and what we believe. It seems like we should take a peek at our “rulebook”.

Way back when…

Doug and I decided to figure out what rules I operate under. We examined the list we made with our post Oh Oh Times and tried to uncover the rule that caused me to react as I did in a given situation. You didn’t do that exercise? Go on, we’ll wait…

OK… with this exercise I’ll write down the crisis I faced in the past, how I reacted to it and then try to figure out what rule I was operating under.

  • Moving to Florida From NY at 19 years of age- The chance to start a new life. We were able to leave our childhood behind, and not be saddled with the tags and pigeonholes of our youth. Rule: Change brings opportunity.
  • Getting a divorce from first wife- Able to expand my social circle. Met people we otherwise wouldn’t have met. Met my current wife! Rule: Things always work out in the end.
  • Losing job at set-building company- Forced us to return to school to complete our education. Expanded our monkey minds. Rule: Growth occurs with change.
  • Mother passing away- This is a tough one. We were forced to become our own monkeys. We couldn’t call mom every time we needed someone to listen to us, or for advice. We had to stand on our own… Rule: Change takes us out of our comfort zone and makes us stronger.
  • .Allowed us to find who and what we really want to be. Rule- Risk produces rewards.

Doug and I have pretty good rules now, but it wasn’t always so. A few years ago, our rules would have been more along the lines of”

  • Change is dangerous.
  • Don’t worry about anyone but yourself.
  • Don’t try too hard.
  • Don’t face your problems.

It’s important to have positive and constructive rules to inform our actions and choices. Then, when there isn’t time to think, we can trust we’ll make decisions that are in line with our conscious choices.


Review your list you made in the exercise Oh Oh Times. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What rules are revealed by your responses to the situations?
  • Is this how you want to respond in the future?
  • How can you modify your rules into something that is more in line with your conscious self?

We all have intentions of being good and fair monkeys. Our internalized rules point to how we really are though, when it comes to our programming. If you don’t like who you were programmed to be, overwrite the rules… Make the subconscious you just as awesome as the conscious you… If two monkeys can do it, so can you.

What plans have you made?


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