by: Staci Stallings
If you’ve ever monkeyed around with electronics, you probably know about “default” settings. They are the ways your computer, laptop, etc. is programmed to react if certain things happen. In the “settings” area of whatever you are working with, be it hardware or software, you will find the “defaults” of what you’re working with.
So for example, if you want to print something in Microsoft Word, the default is single sided pages printed one time. If that’s not what you want (like you want it to print on both sides of the page, or you want it to print five times), then you have to manually change the default.
Further, with some things you can manually change the default and RESET it. So that every time that program, software or hardware does it your way rather than the original default way… until that new default is reset or something happens to force it back to the old default.
But you knew all that, right?
What you might not realize is how this translates to your behavior.
The other night I was talking with my husband about a young man he happens to now be around a lot. He was complaining because this young man gets very angry if anything goes wrong.
I told him, “That’s his default. That’s how he’s learned to cope with or deal with any problem.”
He said, “Yeah, but it doesn’t work. You end up spending a lot of time trying to make everything go just right so he doesn’t fly off the handle.”
I told him, “Or you could teach him the importance of resetting his default.”
The more I thought about this, the more I realized the importance of this simple yet profound insight.
What is YOUR default? When things go wrong, what are you programmed to do?
I think, like software, we often have different defaults for different situations. You might have one default for problems with your kids (or one of your kids) and a different one for problems at work. You might have a “short fuse” default for certain issues or people, and far more patience for others.
Why is that? Because that’s what your default is set on in that particular situation.
Let’s say you are at work with your secretary, and your default with her is to get angry when something doesn’t go right. However, today the bigwigs of the company happen to be in the building on your floor touring. I’ll bet you can suddenly OVERRIDE your default even if something goes wrong.
What difference does that make? A lot! It means that in reality YOU HAVE CONTROL NO MATTER WHAT YOUR DEFAULT HAPPENS TO BE!
So what are some defaults and how do they work?
Anger is one. Anger is when your expectation is not met and you lash out. Anger is most often directed outward. Anger is a hot emotion. You “let off steam” — often directed at someone else.
Hurt, sadness, or tears is another. This is the victim’s reaction. When something goes wrong, you turn it inward and feel hurt over it. You think others blame you.
Giving up is another. When something (anything, even something very small) goes wrong, or even not exactly right, you give up, throw your hands in the air, and say, “I knew that wouldn’t work.”
Finding a new solution. Believe it or not, this is some people’s default for a trying situation. Something goes wrong, they immediately go into “well, what else can we try” mode.
BREATHE, or calm down. This is one I’ve learned to use as my manually-changed default. I used to go into either hurt or giving up. Now I realize I don’t have to default to those. I really can choose a more productive response.
Changing your defaults is not a once-and-done proposition. It often takes time and attention. However, it can be done, and I think it’s important for you to change them –especially those that are destructive to you or others.
So what default do you have that you want to change, and what is your game plan to change it? Let us know.