Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dancing With Pavlov: Trying to De-Condition Conditioning

Okay, this sounds terribly psycho-babblish, but I did study a lot of behavioral science in college and I did work for a number of years in industrial psychology and sociology, so I come by it honestly. Of late I have had a major face plant right in the area of conditioned response. Most of you will have
heard of the Russian researcher Pavlov and his team of dogs that learned to respond to the promise of food at the sound of a bell. I am currently trying to woof down the reverse course.

Over the last week and a half I have had cataract surgery on both eyes. While they are in there they insert a lens to help improve vision overall. So I am no longer exactly nearsighted. And herein lies my problem!

I have been wearing glasses every single day of my life since the fifth grade. It is totally ingrained in me to reach for my glasses upon waking in the morning, to push them up if something in the distance isn't clear, to look over them to get a good look at something small, and to remove them at night. Now that I no longer have them I am still acting as though I still have them.

I hunt for them on waking until I remember I don't need them. I try to look over non-existent glasses to get a better look at something close up. I have punched myself in the nose any number of times trying to push those same invisible glasses up. I claw at my face to take them off at night. Worst of all, not being able to see well enough to read.

Okay, it will get better. Behavior modification is not outside of my psychological repertoire (though personally I am more of a Jungian, by why confuse you more?). My eyes are still in the process of healing and they will change a bit more. They will settle down to a new normal. Chances are that I will need glasses again to correct astigmatism and that pesky not being able to read thing. I have bought a cheapy pair of readers so that I can see for the most important reading in life -- like checking my blood sugar and taking insulin. But still I struggle.

I think it was easier being conditioned to that rather than to recondition myself. Partly because I was so young the first time around that just about everything in my life was about becoming conditioned. Now I keep wanting things to go along smoothly and having to learn to see the world in a new way is anything but smooth.

I have discovered a whole lot of new things with these new eyes -- that there are cobwebs on the ceiling that I hadn't seen before, and the inside of the car windshield is badly in need of being cleaned, and that my eyes are more sensitive to the changes in my blood sugar than I had previously realized. The last one could be a good thing. It may help me keep a closer "eye" on my sugar level.

Like most thing in life getting what I always wanted -- to not need glasses -- is a mixed bag. At the moment it is difficult because of all of the things I need to re-adapt to these new things. On the other hand I love being able to lie in bed and look out the window at more than a blur. There are beautiful visions ahead of me. I just need to de-condition my previous conditioning and stop responding to that bell that just isn't ringing any more -- at least for now.

On the New Age spiritual level I am wondering what it is that I am now willing to see that I wasn't before. Time for a good meditate. Om. . .

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