Living By Default
Living by default is more like living from a place of disempowerment. We do not feel free to direct our own lives
There are many factors that contribute to living by default.
If you think of your life as a movie, then who is in the director’s chair? Do you allow certain people to determine what you believe about yourself? To determine the choices you make? To make your decisions for you? To determine the options available to you?
In both direct and indirect ways we default to other people. Their judgements, opinions and world view. Put another way, we allow others to disempower us. From strangers to family and friends. From teachers, doctors and clergy to employers and co-workers. We may believe what they tell us without questioning the truth or accuracy of their opinions, judgements or perspectives.
Many parents give power over to their children in ways that were not imagined a few decades ago.
We give people the power to control how we live our lives even when they are deceased. Hettie, a widowed grandmother, yearned for a beautiful pastel blue overcoat. Her husband had forbidden her to wear anything other than black. Two years after his death, she took a trip to visit each of her adult children. The purpose was to seek their unanimous permission to buy a new blue coat. She was so anxious about defying her husband. This kind of dynamic is not uncommon.
An abusive partner or boss may directly hold power over us by threats or punishment.
We give others the power to determine our self esteem, our worth and our happiness. We give others power when we are compelled to seek their approval or acceptance. We constantly try to prove ourselves or our worth. We may work hard to keep others happy at the expense of our own well being or happiness.
We say yes because we are scared of rejection if we say no. We comply with the wishes of others because we feel too guilty not to. We reluctantly take up courses or careers that parents or teachers choose for us. We stay in destructive relationships because we are scared of what might happen if we leave. We want to change jobs but lack the confidence to take action. We put up with mistreatment or exploitation because we don’t believe we are worthy of being treated with respect, love and care.
We can also ask ‘what‘ is in the Director’s chair, directing our lives. Amongst the most potent are low self esteem, fears, limiting beliefs, and addictions.
There is a long list of fears vying for the directors’ chair! Many habits are disempowering. For example procrastination or negative thinking or constant worry.
We give the past the power to control our present.
We give power over to emotional states. Anger, hurt and guilt are frequently in the Director’s chair. Increasingly, depression and anxiety are ruling and directing peoples’ daily lives.
The Costs of Living By Default
Handing over the power to direct our lives usually carries a high price. Living by default has the potential to produce deep unhappiness. A sense of powerlessness usually underlies depression.
When we are living by default we often feel disappointed or angry with ourselves. We can be tormented by internal conflicts. We feel guilty if we don’t satisfy the wishes and expectations of other people.
We may continually wish things were different. We suffer with regrets. We can feel resentful and frustrated. We can live in the past and miss the present.
Instead of looking at the past, I put myself ahead twenty years and try to look at what I need to do now in order to get there then.’ Diana Ross
Rather than living by default, we can choose more empowered ways of living. Self esteem, beliefs and habits can all be changed. Instead of being disempowered by fear, we can disempower the fear. Emotions can be put to peace.
Empowerment work has great transformational power. It is one of the best investments we can make in our well being, our happiness and our future.