Updated: Sep 27, 2020
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Picture this scene, you wake up to your alarm and prepare for your typical day. You don't expect much out of this ordinary day, and are faced with an immense amount of decisions. Most of these decisions are decided by the path of least resistance. The only thing is the path of least resistance is like starting up our day in the computer version of safe mode. For those who are not tech savvy, safe mode is a reference to when your computer boots up in the safest manner to avoid damage to the computer. Often your screen will be in a lower resolution and it looks like your computer went back to the 1990's. In this mode the computer operates safely but not at its peak performance. Just like a computer our brains start up in a manner that avoids pain and discomfort as a default. We skip an essential step to gain access to a immense amount of possibilities to help us develop towards our potential. In safe mode, we do not challenge ourselves to grow. When we could be growing in areas of interest like academics, spiritual development, emotional development, and physical fitness. The possibilities are endless, but today with out even thinking, you get ready for the day with your brain booted in safe mode.
This is a sad truth for myself all to often and unfortunately for many in this world. People wake up in their safe mode and never think how they can challenge themselves to grow. Safe mode is easy, it is often risk free and comfortable but robs so many things in life. Safe mode robs marriages, careers, spiritual growth, parents, and children daily. The key part of this dynamic is changing the way we boot up our brain.
How can you avoid booting up in safe mode, to avoid the immediate desire to take the path of least resistance that robs us from the potential you were made with? I believe the first step is to be honest with yourself. Recognize the areas that need development. Look in the mirror and self-reflect on how you could improve. How you can improve as a father, as a mother, physically, academically, spiritually, and the list can go on. Ultimately, you need a direction to orientate yourself to grow. Avoid the pitfall of beating yourself up as you look honestly at your flaws. Analyze yourself like a CEO would look to grow their company. Look at yourself objectively and see what areas that limit growth then strategically decide what the next best step would be. It can easy to be in safe mode, to feel like you don't need to improve, which honestly we all have room for improvement within our lives. Often we do not even realize how toxic complacency is until you see the potential that you could be. I'll use a example to demonstrate. Lets pretend that your able to see two different realities of your life. One with a life booted in safe mode the other actively maxing out your potential. Ultimately if you were able to decide between the benefits of either life you most likely would pick the life with you meeting your full potential. Starting with a direction to focus on for growth is key to beginning change.
The next step after you have a desired direction is starting the day consciously. This can be done by meditating, doing self awareness exercises, visualization work, physical exercise, or reading a book to expand your mind. Listen to a podcast that helps you develop in the area that needs growth. There is an immense amount of resources that can help you develop into a more refined individual. Doing these things, starts the day immediately challenging the path of least resistance and kick starts the brain into a different space. The key part of waking up consciously is knowing and taking control of your decisions rather then following the habits that have been developed over time.
Another way to avoid operating in safe mode is actively keeping your mind on guard. When our guard is down we do not actively think about how we will spend our time, finances, or energy. Evenings that could be enjoyed with family all to often instead become wasteful time spent on phones or doing what ever you do to fill time. Make the time you have matter. Think about times when your actively on guard. An example of this is driving in dangerous conditions. Your mind automatically becomes active, scanning for threats or issues that could arise. This is because when you are on guard, your nervous system is heightened and you're able to react more appropriately to potential threats. The same applies to our daily activities. If you are on guard and go to battle with your mind actively, you will be more able to be mindful in your decisions throughout the day. This helps you take control of your resources and better invest them into meaningful things in your life. Taking active control of the mind takes diligence and effort. Some tools that can help you stay on guard are reminders/alarms, people that keep you accountable, mentors, and counseling when your needing more professional help. These are tools that can help you take back control of the mind.
Our brains are tricky organs conditioned just like our muscles. To break the cycle of booting your brain up in safe mode, you have to develop those muscles. The battle is in front of you, so give yourself the tools to face the day. Your day can start differently instead of another ordinary day. You can move towards your potential. Start the difficult journey, of avoiding the path of least resistance. Give yourself an honest look, start your day purposefully, and stay on guard. Doing those three things can change your life.
Aaron Martinez. M.Ed. LPC