Have you ever noticed that you tend to engage in the same patterns over and over again? We all have a tendency to default to particular patterns of thinking or behaving. They are our starting point, so to speak, and the place our brain defaults to when having to process information, make decisions, or take action. For example, some people default towards optimism, seeing the glass as half full, while others default towards pessimism. But just because we have a default mode doesn’t mean we are stuck there. If we can identify it, then we can work to manually move the dial to whatever position we would like it to be in.
I’ll give you a personal example. I definitely default to worrying. It’s often my starting place, so when faced with a decision I often default to thinking about everything that could go wrong and how to prevent it. While there can be some upsides to always looking towards the future (i.e. makes me a good vacation planner), it mostly causes me a lot of suffering and takes me away from the present moment. I have had to accept that this is my default mode. Upon recognizing this I agonized a bit. I judged myself and asked, “why am I like this,” which kept me stuck firmly in my default mode. It did not move the dial at all. But knowing this is my default mode gives me the space and the wisdom to work at manually moving the dial to a different place – one where I can try to stay more present in the moment and accept the things I cannot change. It’s a work in progress. I don’t always catch it, and sometimes moving the dial feels like pushing a boulder up a hill. But I have the opportunity to always try again.
So I encourage you to think through what some of your default modes might be. What patterns have you noticed about the way you think about or react to things? If you become aware of this default mode you can start to bring some acceptance to it. Rather than fighting reality or getting frustrated with it, you can just accept that we all have different default modes and this is one of yours. Now that you know it, you can identify where you’d rather be and set small action steps in place to manually move the dial.