Default Settings

Apr 02, 2008

In the language of computers the default setting means that no matter what, the computer always returns to the default settings. Lately I have been thinking that the phrase applies equally well to human beings. Does an individual have a “default” reaction that he returns to when things are difficult, tentative, or unsettled in his life? Does he have a tendency toward certain types of thought and action when under stress? Can he change the default setting—is it easy or hard? This computer term reveals some emotional dynamics within a person.
Recently I have realized that my “default setting” is anxiety when things are not going well. I begin to complain and cannot find peace. I cannot find resolutions, because I do not recognize the problem. The anxiety invades my thinking. No longer am I in relation with the Lord, I am totally absorbed in the anxiety that blocks other thoughts. This absorption is negative: what’s happening to me? who’s judging me? what will happen to me if what I want doesn’t happen? The cause of my descent into anxiety is often a transition from the known into the unknown. Most often it occurs in a subtle way. I do not recognize the descent immediately. I do not know what to do. I have no plans for the future.
I much prefer dealing with the known I my life, but these periods can last a few hours or days or even six months or more. I do not like the phases of indecision. When I finally recognize the anxiety, then I ask the Lord to help me return to a state of equilibrium in which I serve Him, other persons and myself.
I don’t know if the “default setting” is set in the “hardware” or the “software” of a human being. In other words is one born with a tendency towards a response to the stresses of live? Or do circumstances evoke a certain response in each individual? It may be that both propositions are true. In any case the individual must find a way of recognizing this tendency and search for a way of reconnecting to his more essential self so that he can function well again. I do not think that a person can change this response, but I do believe that it can be modified so that it has less power over him. There is a choice to be made between functioning with limitations that sometimes are profound or changing into a better way of being.
These limitations to functioning are also the barriers between an individual and God(and to relationships to others and to his work—all parts of his life). They bring his attention inside, far from care for other persons or for God. The motive is self-protection, not self-care. If he cares for the relationship between him and God, it is important that he nurture the relationship and not ignore it.
In these modern times there are psychological tools to use in order to change our thinking and behavior, but I prefer the action of the Holy Spirit. To pray about a dilemma with devotion and love signals the Holy Spirit that one’s intention is to transform himself with the help of the Spirit. All that is necessary for the individual is to put himself in God’s hands and the Spirit will do the inner transformation.
The onset of the limitations must signal to the individual that he needs to return to a good relationship with God and with himself. In the religious literature of the past the saints speak of these movements towards and away from God as consolation and desolation. They are natural in the disciple, but it is important to moderate them and shorten them as much as possible since the relationship with God is primary. To return to the language of computers, one must adapt to the requirements of the hardware and software; it is the same with God, one must adapt himself to God’s requirements.

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