What Are Your Default Settings?

Re-booters understand that part of the re-booting process involves shutting down, going dark, and undergoing a quiet period where it appears that nothing is happening but we are, in fact, rewriting some of our fundamental operating code. Using this analogy, I’d like you to take a moment and consider what are your default settings for life?

We each come into this world programmed with a particular temperament—by nature, we may be relaxed and flexible or high strung and controlling; we may be outgoing or more introverted. We may be more likely to see the glass half full or despair at its nearly empty condition. This is what I mean by default settings. Our life experience can reprogram us in some of these respects—we learn to be more cautious where before we took people and situations at face value. We respect the limits to just how well values such as loyalty or generosity or benefit of the doubt can serve us. In other words, our original software can be modified.

And this is good.

This is good because our life experience teaches us the importance of refining our approach to the world so that we can improve our experience as well as that of the people we impact on a daily basis. Not one of us has a perfectly programmed set of software—there are always bugs to be fixed. However, that being said, I believe it is highly useful to acknowledge and understand what our default settings are because when we get highly stressed and don’t know what to do, we tend to default to those initial attitudes and instincts.

So, I’d like you to take a moment or two to see if you can recognize what those are for you. You may now be a world away from that person in terms of your increased maturity and capabilities to make smarter choices, but that original profile lurks within and you’re better off knowing that than pretending you banished these reactions long ago. Does what I am saying make any sense?

It also helps, in the privacy of your own mind, to spend a few moments trying to assess what the default settings are of those close to you. The reason I suggest this is that it will enable you to be more patient and understanding when they freak out or get all controlling or standoffish during troubling times. Instead of getting angry and reacting to these poor behaviors, you can remind yourself that they are downshifting into their default mode. Recognizing this may allow you to create enough space and generosity of spirit that the other person needs in order to recover their senses and get back on track.

For instance, when things are happening very fast and I feel stressed, my gut instinct is always to say, “No!” to whatever is suggested or demanded. Ninety percent of the time, if given enough room to think calmly about it, I come around and say, “Yes.” But, I know myself well enough to know that I really, really hate feeling like I’m being told what to do—whether or not that’s what’s actually going on. So, I’ve learned ways to cope with this default setting. I’ve learned to ask for time to consider the request instead of staking out my boundaries right away. And, it’s happened so often over the course of my life that I know this is a pattern for me. So, each time, I handle it better.

What about you? What are your default settings? Under duress, do you immediately shift into feelings of intimidation? Rage? Giving up? Passive aggressive seething? A knee jerk reaction into ascribing nefarious intentions by the other person? Have you developed any workarounds for this? What are you doing to modify your software?

Rebooters appreciate the fact that factory installed settings aren’t always the most useful. We need to become our own programmers.


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