(c) 2010 Joan M. Newcomb
What is your default setting? When you're under stress, what do you habitually do? How effective is it?
Here are some examples - one default setting is 'do nothing'. If you just hunker down, keep your nose clean, not make any sudden moves, then maybe change will happen around you. If you're very, very good, someone will give you something.
Another is 'do everything'. If you amp up your activity, do lots of reaching out and communicating, put a lot of effort into things, maybe you can make change happen through sheer strength of will.
Here's another, slightly different: 'Get very formal'. Be ultra polite, politically correct, show people how well bred and educated you are (and therefore better and more worthy). The opposite of this is 'get very *friendly*'. Hug everyone, bake cookies, make phone calls, show everyone you are NICE and therefore not threatening.
Default settings come from our childhood. It's how we learned to get what we wanted growing up. Except they weren't very successful even back then!
In personal or professional relationships, default settings don't work. Or only work to make you more stuck.
I have people come to me whose partners are in the 'do nothing' default setting. They're frustrated because their requests for change are falling on deaf ears. It seems like their partners expect them to do all the work.
And I have people come to me who feel overwhelmed by their relationship. They need 'down time' or 'me time' and their partner is frantically trying to keep their attention or demanding communication from them.
In personal relationships, the 'very formal' default deflates intimacy and connection. In professional relationships the 'very friendly' default is unusally inappropriate.
I've observed people who've been laid off stuck in the 'do nothing' setting. (They don't come to me for a session because that would be doing something)! They send out their minimum resumes per week to receive their unemployment check and that's it. It seems as if they're just waiting for the Universe to hand them a job on a silver platter.
Job hunting in the 'do everything' mode either gets you a job you don't want, because you've applied everywhere, or gets you lots of first interviews but never seconds, because you come off as frantic and needy.
If you're engaging in your default setting, it's because you're stuck. You're operating from your programming rather than You, Your Essential Self. You're not creating you're reality, you're solidifying the illusion.
Fear and disconnection are at the core of all default settings. We learned these behaviors as children because our needs weren't being met by the adults who were supposed to be taking care of us. We were hungry, angry, lonely, tired or sad. And probably the adult caretaker was as least one of these, too (although probably not the same one).
How do you get unstuck from your default setting? It's different, depending on which one it is for you. If you're in 'do nothing', then doing *something* is a start. If you're depressed about not working and feeling like shit, figure out some baby step to take. Perhaps it's ordering free business cards from Vista Print and sticking them on bulletin boards. Maybe it's putting ads on Craigs List. Pick up the phone and call another person who's unemployed. In relationship, it's sending her flowers or a thoughtful card, or even doing one of the things your partner's asked of you.
Taking an action when you're in 'do nothing' mode indicates to the Universe/your Expanded Self that you're ready for change to happen. Filling out an application at the bank or grocery store may not be an action in the direction you'd like to go in, but the energy change may make a recruiter reviewing resumes on Monster.com call you for consulting work in the area of your actual profession. The slightest gesture to your partner could completely transform the relationship.
If you're 'doing everything', stop and take a walk. Rent a video or watch something on Hulu. The world won't come to a halt if you're not pushing it. Take a morning off and do something non-work related. Stop calling or texting your partner and take *yourself* out for a meal or a movie.
Shifting gears down from doing everything creates space for something to happen. It brings you into yourself, so you're home when the Universal Parcel Service delivers your desires.
Take a deep breath and relax. If you're too formal, your partner won't fire you if you loosen up a bit. Let yourself become approachable. If you're too friendly, those people in the office who are on diets will *thank* you when you stop bringing in cookies every day. Try sitting at your desk and see how many people stop by your cubicle instead.
It's about breaking patterns that limit you from being your True Self and creating your reality in your own unique way. It works best without effort (everything does). And baby steps are all you have to do.
So for the next 7 days, try this. Notice what your default setting is and notice when and where you're doing it. Once a day, do (or not do) something different. And notice how your life transforms by next week!