Intentional Living Series Week Thirty-Two: Are You On Autopilot?

Posted: 10 years ago | By: Christine Somers | In: Intentional Living Series | Read Time: 3 minutes, 32 seconds

{Whitefish, Montana: The Beginning Of A Quilt}

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid but by an infinite expectation of the dawn." ~Henry David Thoreau

In week 31 I shared with you the difference between living in the moment and living in the future and how decisions made in the moment frame the future. This week I will discuss how to identify when you are living on autopilot.

As Marty and I were driving into the City this past week, when about mid-point through our drive, he looked around and said, "Where are we, have I missed the exit?". I chuckled as I assured him that we had not missed our exit and were headed in the right direction. Marty had been on autopilot and was trying to rejoin the here and now. 

Autopilot is when your mind is somewhere else and your body is going through the motions without conscious thought. A runner can flip the autopilot switch into the on position as she heads out for her daily run. Her conscious mind thinks through and organized various thoughts and ideas while her subconscious mind and body takes the 10-mile run. (Think about your computer and how you can be working on one program while another one is running in the background. It slows down the whole system but can be done.) The opposite of being on autopilot is being in "The Zone"; that is when the conscious mind, subconscious mind and the body are solely focused on the task or challenge of the moment. 

Autopilot is normally reserved for boring, uninspired tasks such as driving on long stretches of uninspired highway. Marty had driven that stretch of road hundreds of times so his conscious mind engaged with a work problem that had been vexing him. The danger of the autopilot mode is that you can miss out on the here and now. If you find you are spending your day asking everyone around you to repeat what he or she just said while your minds is engaged else where, you are living your life on autopilot.

How often you move into the autopilot mode may be an indication of how engaged you are with the life you have created. If you want to be any place but in the here and now, it is time to think about how to change your situation. As a cautionary note to those who run across someone moving through life on autopilot, be gentle. Sometimes he or she is dealing with a life challenge, a serious illness or the death of a loved one. For those folks, just putting one foot in front of another maybe all they can do and the autopilot mode is a safety value.

How often do you hit the autopilot button? Do you spend the day asking your family and friends to repeat what they are saying? Are you engaged in the here and now?

Week 32 Assignment: This week keep a record of how many times you ask someone to repeat what he or she said. If you find it is more than once or twice, explore if you are spending too much time in autopilot.


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