I have been thinking about typewriters. Both of my grandmothers had typewriters. I remember my Grandma Gwen, typing out letters and invoices for my grandpa’s construction business. I also remember how cool it was that my Grandma Pearl had an electric typewriter. When I was a young teen I was able to use it to retype a letter and it was pretty great.
Back in typewriter days, if you made a mistake you had a few options. 1. You could completely ignore the mistake and act like it didn’t happen at all and then finish your document. 2. You could backspace and X out the wrong word or letter, or 3. You could backspace and type the right letter over and over again until it was darker than the wrong letter. Option 4. was to use erasable typewriter paper – (I think it was called onion skin). If a mistake was made, you could take the paper out – use an eraser to erase the error and then put the paper back in, hoping that everything would line up ok, but often it didn’t.
Then along came the infamous ‘white out’ Great stuff. If you make a mistake, you could use white out to cover it up. At first white out came in a liquid, then correction tape, and eventually some typewriters included a white out key to type over the mistake, like my grandma Pearl’s. I learned quickly how important it was to let the white out dry before starting again to type the right word or letter or it would smear and make a terrible mess.
As we look back, the evolution from typewriter to word processor is truly remarkable. Today, we are fortunate to have word processing programs with spell checkers! Right now I am typing in a Microsoft Word Document. If I make a spelling or a grammatical error – it marks it accordingly. And, it suggests possible corrections. That’s cool. But what is even greater, is the auto-correct feature. I have used this program long enough that now it recognizes some of the words I use often and it automatically completes my words and sometimes my sentences – without me!
What a great feature – auto-correct. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could train ourselves to auto-correct our bad behaviors, before we made a mistake? I personally would love to be able to engage an auto-correct feature that would prevent me from eating the wrong thing or making a bad choice. I think that is possible. Somehow it seems to me that thin people have great control over their auto-correct feature. So how can I?
I suspect that each one of us is at a different point of being able to engage our ability to auto-correct ourselves.
Take our eating habits for example. When we eat the wrong thing, some ignore it and move on. Others try to X it out or cover it up with miss-placed beliefs like – if I eat it fast the calories won’t count. As I have thought through this analogy, I have challenged myself and now challenge you to spend some time thinking not just about your mistakes and wrong choices, but more about what you do about it ‘after the mistake has been made and what it might take to activate your own autocorrect feature for next time.
Next time you eat something that you consider a mistake, pause a moment as ask yourself these questions.
- How did this food get here in the first place? Likely it was a conscious choice when shopping. Auto-correct with more mindful shopping.
- Was it in-sight or did you have to search for it, deliberately go for it. Auto-correct with out of sight or hard to reach placement.
- Were you really hungry? Auto-correct with using the HALTS technique. Ask yourself am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired or Stresses? Then act accordingly.
- Was there something else I could have eaten instead? Auto-correct by surrounding yourself with better choices – again that decision is made in advance.
- So now that you have eaten that cupcake what are you going to do now? Auto-correct by coming to understand your own metabolism and know that if calories went in you need to work them off!
Like you, I have come too far to allow myself to repeat mistakes over and over again without making an effort to understand and correct them. I don’t want to ignore my mistakes or attempt to cover them up, “X” them out, or white wash them. We all make mistakes, but we also all have the ability to mindfully engage our own auto-correct feature. Here’s to lessons from a typewriter!