Skip to main content
FrameworkPersonal StoryTools

3 Easy Steps to Interrupt Default Mode Behaviors

By June 5, 2022No Comments
If you have a pulse, chances are that you have more than one default mode that doesn’t serve your best interest. Examples include: 
  1. Getting upset at the slightest of inconveniences
  2. Isolating yourself instead of engaging at work or with family and friends
  3. Taking offense where none was meant
  4. Eating as a form of comfort
These default modes happen because your brain thinks it is helping you out by automatically engaging familiar behaviors based on past experiences. In other words, after a certain point your brain thinks it knows what you want in a given situation, and so it doesn’t even bother consulting you before firing the neurotransmitters responsible for your typical behavior. 
Default modes are not all bad – they can be used to serve your best interests when you train yourself to have healthy and productive defaults. We’ll talk more about that in another entry – but first, let’s focus on interrupting the default modes that are resulting in self-sabotage and stagnation.

Step #1 – Notice that your default mode has been or is about to be triggered

The window to notice a default mode has been or will be triggered is a matter of seconds. The signs will be subtle, but you probably already know exactly what they are. Maybe your face or ears flush, perhaps you speak a little faster, or a little louder. It could be that your heart starts to race, or that a strong emotion like anger, sadness or resignation washes over you. Being able to spot these automatic responses is key when it comes to interrupting the default mode.
It is also helpful to understand what your triggers are – is there a certain person in your life that you immediately react negatively to? Is there a sound you really dislike? Do crowds or being too isolated trigger certain behaviors in you?
Consider an unwanted default mode that you know about. Close your eyes and think of the last time this behavior occurred. Backtrack as far as you can, before you felt triggered and see if you can determine what the specific trigger was, and more importantly how your body and mind responded. Use what you find and train yourself to notice when the response occurs, which will tip you off that a default mode has initiated. Being able to notice this response will give you ultimate power over how you will respond.

Step #2 – Investigate why you are feeling the way that you feel

The next step is to investigate why you are activating a default mode. You may be able to quickly identify the external trigger, but the reason why you want to respond a certain way will be further down than the surface layer. Typically, unwanted default mode behaviors boil down to feeling threatened, or generally unsafe. The behaviors are based on a belief or system of beliefs you have, so interrupting a default mode behavior does sometimes involve examining the beliefs that are driving your behavior.
When your default behavior tends to be one of anger, sarcasm, or any other form of lashing out, the common cause will be that one or more of your beliefs are being challenged
This step works best when a little bit of pre-work has been done. I highly recommend checking out my earlier entry: Mind Maps: Identity, Beliefs, and Behaviors to fast-track your success.

Step #3 – Choose how you want to respond

Now that you have noticed the engagement of your default mode behavior, and you have investigated the reason why it was triggered, all that is left to do is choose how you want to proceed. If you weigh the context against your reasons for activating a default mode and find that it makes sense to proceed with the familiar behavior, you can and should. If you instead decide that your default response is not reflective of your ultimate goals, or in line with the reality or context involved, you can choose differently.
The point of this step is not to act differently every time, but to be an active and rational participant in how you choose to respond to the world around you. 

Example Time

Call to Action

Interrupting default mode behaviors is just one of many small tweaks that you can make to your life that will make a big difference over time. I invite you to consider what default mode behaviors might be working against you in your day-to-day life, and experiment with using the NIC model to reclaim your power in how you navigate your life and the world. What will follow is increased confidence in your abilities, and higher self-esteem as you become more intentional with aligning your behaviors with your core values. 
If you need help identifying your default mode behaviors, or would like a buddy to deep-dive into your beliefs, reach out and let’s chat!