Recently my computer did what most electronic things eventually do and instantly became useless. After trying all the usual remedies, I came to the conclusion that the only recourse left to me was to start at the beginning….to “format” the computer. This involves wiping out all the computer memory and essentially reverting it back to the state it was in when it came out of the box . . . the default position.
With a computer, this means erasing everything. But yet, even when erasing all the information, a procedure called “formatting the hard drive,” there is still some information remaining. This is called the BIOS, or the “basic information operating system.” This fundamental set of commands is activated when the computer is first turned on. The BIOS is permanently built into the computer (though it can be changed or replaced) and is the set of commands that actually make this expensive assembly of electronic junk a computer.
It is the fundamental system that tells the computer what to do —- until directed otherwise. It would be similar to the command system a person has that tells his body how to swallow or digest, or sneeze. A baby is born knowing how to sneeze or swallow. It’s in the human “BIOS.”
Yes people, just like computers, also have a basic operating system. Some of it is built in at birth, but some is learned. For instance, Babies know how to swallow at birth, yet they must learn to blink at possible danger. Breathing is another basic command.
From the time we start sucking in air to our last breath, we automatically breathe. Oh, we can hold it for a while, even to the point of passing out, but even if we pass out, we automatically start to breathe again. It’s our “default position.” It turns out that we have mental as well as physical defaults.There are default positions for many things we don’t often realize.
Every parent can remember the day they did or said something to their children and then immediately thought to themselves, “Oh Lord, I sound just like my mother or my father!” That’s because, when faced with a situation we had no learned instructions on how to handle, we just reverted to the default position.
That’s right! Our parents are most often our built-in default position. When all else fails or we don’t know what to do . . . we act just like our parents. I know it’s sad, isn’t it?
This is great if our parents were perfect, but unfortunately, this isn’t usually the case. Just as we can learn to blink and walk and talk, we also can learn to yell and holler and strike out violently. We can learn to approach every new situation or relationship with fear and apprehension.
We can become conditioned to greet every new encounter with trepidation or depression. All this can be learned from our experiences and relationships with our parents, as well as others.
Many children grow up with faulty parents or perhaps even no parents. A great many of today’s youth grow up with only one parent. This can cause many people to be “programmed” with faulty BIOS. As an example, I offer a personal illustration.
When I was growing up my sisters would joke that our dad must have a rubber arm. At the dinner table, if we were eating loudly, or not behaving in the proper way, it seemed like his hand, indeed his entire arm, could suddenly shoot out from his body to the other end of the table and rap you upside the head with a gruff “sit up straight” or “close your mouth when you chew.” Years later, as adults with our own spouses and families, we were laughing and sharing this childhood memory at a family dinner. My dad sat quietly. He just sort of smiled and took the ribbing in stride.
About fifteen minutes later, after the conversation had moved on to something else, suddenly, my dad yanked his arm up in the air. Instantly three supposedly “grown-up” people ducked for cover as far as could be achieved. Personally, I think my chin hit the mashed potatoes. In a few seconds, we regained our composure and realized the silliness of our actions. Our spouses just stared at us like we were all crazy. My dad just leaned back and calmly said, “I still got it!”
Even after years of raising our own families and going our separate ways we still carried the default position we learned as children. When faced with the same situation, we reacted just as we would have twenty years before. We see this same effect repeating itself in the case of abuse victims. They often grow to repeat the abuse themselves and continuing the cycle. It’s their default position.
I have a friend that worries about everything.
She worries that the car will break down, the dog will run away, the children will get hurt or sick or “be abducted.” Once, when a news story talked about the pending crash of a Russian satellite, she actually worried that it might hit her. While the odds of that happening were less than the odds of being born in a manger in Bethlehem on Christmas.
She couldn’t stop worrying about it. Her default position is worry and it affects her entire life. The Bible has a lot to say about this.
The Bible teaches us God’s “Default positions.” For instance, while the Bible never specifically tells us not to “drink,” it does specifically tell us not to worry. This could lead you to conclude that worry is far more important to God than a little wine with dinner. In fact, it has been reported that the Bible warns us, in some way or other, at least 365 times “not to worry.” That’s once for every day of the year. Perhaps God is trying to tell us that worry is far more harmful than a glass of wine . . . unless drinking too much is one of your default positions!
Constant worry can lead to many physical and mental problems. Worrying about something causes fear to arise in your body. This, in turn, causes changes in your metabolism, your digestion, your behavior, your blood pressure, your sleep … the list of effects is almost endless. You can’t constantly have elevated levels of “fight or flight” hormones coursing through your veins without causing damage to your system.
Your car might be able to take off with the pedal to the metal once in a while, but it won’t do it all the time. It won’t be long until something breaks or the whole thing just wears out. If you think about it, you probably know someone who running just like that. Hey! It might even be you.
I have another friend whose default position is just “happy.” She never lingers on what might have been or what could go wrong. She just wakes up every day and lives it “happy.” She believes everything will turn out alright. And she’s usually right. Even when things go wrong, her default position is that everything will get better. She’s been right so far.
Some people constantly worry and fret over things. Then when nothing bad happens and everything turns out OK, they convince themselves that all turned out OK . . . BECAUSE THEY WORRIED! This, in turn, reinforces the default position of fear and worry. I’ve seen children acting this way just because they grew up watching their parents do the same thing.
Did you ever see a three-legged dog? I was watching one playing once and it struck me that the dog didn’t lay down and get depressed over his situation or feel sorry for himself. He just jumped around and had as much fun as a three-legged dog could.
The purpose of this article is not to point out faults, (another well-known default position) but to get you to see your behavior and the behavior of others for what it usually is, a learned response. And just as something is learned, it can be unlearned. The most successful way to do this is to replace the response with another. It will be hard at first, but it can and is done every day.
A while back I saw a video from Indonesia. A young school teacher is arriving home. The security camera recorded the whole event. As she arrives home, she activates the gate in her secure parking spot. After driving into the spot, the camera reveals the passenger on a passing motorbike jumping off and forcing his way into the closing gate. He immediately runs up to the young girl and, after hitting her, tries to snatch her purse away.
At this point, most young girl’s default position would be to scream out and recoil from the danger. Did I mention that she is a teacher . . . at the local Martial Arts Academy. Within two seconds she throws her attacker on his back and is pummeling the living daylights out of him. The video then reveals his accomplice, getting off the motorbike, running through the gate and rescuing his cohort from one of the most humiliating beatings of his worthless criminal life.
Through discipline and practice, she had learned a new default position to being mugged.
The odd thing is that most people naturally think that the best way to prepare for something fearful or harmful is to think about and try to prepare a correct response. But this really only makes you spend more precious brain power contemplating the imagined danger. The effect is to reinforce the default position of “worry.” Actually, not thinking about it is the better response.
I’m not saying not to prepare for possible bad events, but what I am saying is to quit worrying about them. During my 68 years on the plane,t I have been in a number of accidents. The one thing they all have in common is that, barring hiding in a cave, no amount of preparation would have helped much.
If you ever hit a deer while driving you know what I mean. One second you’re minding your own business, the next second a deer is bouncing off the fender. All the worry in the world wouldn’t have helped. As the old saying goes, “stuff happens.” I suppose I could give up driving, but then I wouldn’t get anywhere.
All the fear of being mugged or worrying about unexpected danger didn’t help the young school teacher at all. Being prepared did! Jesus gives us the Biblical way to change the default position. He said, “let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.”
The first thing I notice in reading this is that He’s implying that we have the power to decide whether we are full of fear or worry. But how? He explains in the next sentence. “Believe in God, and believe also in me.” You can spend your time thinking and believing that something bad is about to happen or you can choose to trust that God’s got it all under control.
The original apostles were the recipients of numerous beatings, tortures, stonings, and ultimately death. All the worry in the world would not have changed it. Instead, they chose to believe that God had it all under control, and so they just lived out their lives choosing to be happy.
If you find you don’t like this article, don’t worry about it. Maybe it’s just your “Default Position.”