Transcend The Default Future

This morning many of us woke up thinking, “Today will be different.” No. No, it won’t be different. And it won’t be different because of the language of the wound.

Champions are effective human beings. To me, that means tapping into and exhausting all of your potential; to live big and boldly in the space known as your life. Through coaching and facilitating workshops, it has become evident to me that one of the biggest obstacles to living your potential is what I call the language of the wound. The language of the wound limits your relationships, your conversations, your thoughts – it limits everything about you. Your wounds are the hurts you have accumulated over the years at the hands of the different people you have encountered. Others frame up the language of the wound more eloquently than I do so I share their words with you below.

In The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting The Future Of Your Organization And Your Life, authors Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan wrote about a topic similar to the language of the wound called the default future. The crux of the theory of the default future is that today will be just like yesterday, no matter what we do, because we are bringing yesterday’s thinking in to this day. We have deeply entrenched behavior patterns that we repeat day after day that keep us from doing something new and different today. We nail our feet to the floor in the spot in which we stand through our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves. We nail other people’s feet to the floor in the spot in which they stand by our thoughts and beliefs about them. There is no room for anything new because we are holding ourselves and others to yesterday’s behaviors. So yes, today will be just like yesterday.

In Reinventing your Life, authors Dr. Jeffrey E. Young and Dr. Janet S. Klosko discussed a similar theory, using different language. They called our self-defeating patterns lifetraps or schemas: “A lifetrap is a pattern that starts in childhood and reverberates throughout life. It began with something that was done to us by our families or by other children. We were abandoned, criticized, overprotected, abused, excluded or deprived – we were damaged in some way. Eventually the lifetrap becomes part of us.” (p. 1) 

Lifetraps are very powerful as they “determine how we think, feel, act, and relate to others. They trigger strong feelings such as anger, sadness, and anxiety. Even when we appear to have everything – social status, an ideal marriage, the respect of people close to us, career success – we are often unable to savor life or believe in our accomplishments.” (p. 2) Young and Klosko provided a compelling description of how lifetraps operate and control what we do. It explains why we keep repeating these self-sabotaging behavior patterns. Lifetraps “are deeply entrenched beliefs about ourselves and the world, learned early in life. These schemas are central to our sense of self.  To give up our belief in a schema would be to surrender the security of knowing who we are and what the world is like; therefore we cling to it, even when it hurts us.  These early beliefs provide us with a sense of predictability and certainty; they are comfortable and familiar. In an odd sense, they make us feel at home. This is why cognitive psychologists believe schemas or lifetraps are so difficult to change.” (p. 6) And this explains why, no matter how hard we try, we wake up each day to a default future. 

To rewrite your future, you must continually confront yourself about why you do what you do. According to Young and Klosko, “you may have to make choices that are painful in the short run and even go against your gut feelings in order to escape a rut that you have been mired in throughout your life.” (p. 8) As long as life remains comfortable and predictable for you, today will be just like yesterday. If yesterday didn’t bring you the peace and abundance you deserve it, it is highly unlikely that those same thought patterns are going to bring you something different today.

If you want to be a more effective human being, for yourself, for your significant other, for your children, or for whomever, you can’t live the default future. You can’t let the lifetrap control you, you must control it. To rewrite the future, we must clear out some of the lifetrap debris to make way for new, more productive patterns. Coaching is perfect for that. We are ready when you are!

Busy rewriting my future,

Dr. Tomi