A Hacked Computer Unmasks the Ego

My computer was hacked!   Being hacked brought back those anxious thoughts that sat in the back of my mind and would come wriggling to the surface like those huge worms after a rainstorm.  “Will I get hacked?  How does it happen?   How will I know I’ve been hacked?  How do you deal with it?”

Well, my wriggling worries, came to pass.  Luckily, I discovered it in time to quickly shut down my computer and to immediately call the local computer experts.  It all happened so fast that I wasn’t even sure what happened.

As with most experiences, this too proved to be a life lesson and remind me of my failings.  (I’m not saying that as a criticism, just a reminder that I’m on my own learning journey.)   What do I mean?  I was without a laptop for roughly two weeks.  (It’s a long story and not worth recounting why it took so long to get my laptop back.)

Within a short period of time I discovered how much I rely on it.  I’m old school.  I like to communicate through email.  Yes, I have a smart phone.  However, my thumbs have never developed the appropriate dexterity to type quickly.  I prefer to read and respond to emails on my laptop, and I text only when necessary.

Many nights I spent hours ticking off all the things I needed my laptop for: projects, client work, gathering tax information. And I tried to figure out work-arounds and new timelines.  Devising work-arounds is a good practice, but I have a tendency to do these things at 3:30 a.m.

At times I would remind myself that worrying wasn’t going to help.   I then began to wonder if something else was beneath the anxiety.  Yes, I was concerned about meeting my commitments.  But, hidden below the concern was guilt.  I felt guilty because I had been wanting for weeks to spend time on non-work projects.  As if that was a bad thing!

So, I “allowed” myself to spend a day re-organizing my pantry cupboards.  I also binge-read, a couple of books and multiple magazines.   I stared out the windows and thought about how I wanted our flower beds to look and feel and what it would take to get them to that state.  And I pondered why I had to wait for my lack of a laptop to do things I enjoy.

Why do I need an excuse to focus on simple pleasures?  I don’t have an answer to that question yet.  But I did discover other nuggets of information.

Because I was reviewing emails on my smart phone (a much smaller screen), I skimmed and deleted most of them. I realized how many unimportant emails I receive that are trying to get my attention (and dollars).

I also realized I spend a lot of time looking at web-sites that are interesting, but don’t really contribute to my personal development or my work.    Without the bigger screen, I didn’t spend time on web-sites.   I realized how unproductive I am at times.

And, here’s the real-life lesson, I discovered my ego had reared its hydra-head once again.  I’ve alwaysprided myself on limiting my use of social media.  I’m not on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. because for me I don’t view them as a good use of my time. (I told you I’m old school.)

However, I have been seduced by interesting words, phrases, or graphics on that highly-pixelated screen.  I’ve spent who knows how many hours on stuff that is of little real value to me.  In short, it’s as if I’ve been watching hours of commercials on TV.  The agony of it all!!

What I’ve discovered as I’ve been (not-patiently) waiting for my laptop:

1.      It is very easy for me to slip into anxiety about my commitments even though I know I can (and have) renegotiated timelines and deliverables.

2.     How quickly I can fall into old habits of allowing my mind to focus on racing thoughts and worries instead of sleeping.

3.     I need to be more conscious about how I spend my time on my laptop.

4.     My ego is masterful in its ability to mask my actual from my perceived behavior.

5.       I need to give myself permission (again) to do things I enjoy.  When I feel stressed, spending time on simple pleasures helps me relax.

As I’ve said before, some days it feels like I’ve taken one step forward and two steps back.  The good news is with each stumble I become more aware.  Dang!  This being mindful is tough!