Do you feel bored? Like you're just existing and not living? Do you feel like there's something you're not doing right? It's maybe because you're following the same routine and similar patterns every day.
What Is Autopilot?
To simply give you an example, imagine you're driving back home and you step out of your car, but you don't remember stopping at any lights, switching any lanes or making that right-hand turn. The drive was a blur, yet you arrived home safe and sound.
Autopilot is a subconscious brain activity that allows us to complete our daily routine without being fully conscious. It is a state or condition in which activity or behaviour is regulated automatically in a predetermined or instinctive manner. This subconscious conditioning is created in our childhood based on the living environment followed by our experiences.
We are creatures of habit and routine, which means that we tend to think the same thoughts and repeat the same behaviour, which works well at times because, well, our brain can't possibly take the time to consider every single thing we do as that'd lead to decision overload.
But autopilot becomes a problem when it turns into one's default mode of operating. It then starts slipping into the other areas of your life that need more presence of mind and emotionally start affecting you. Professor Renata Salecl, a sociologist and philosopher, surveyed 3,000 people in which 96 per cent of them admitted living on autopilot.
Signs You're Living Your Life On Autopilot
A Predictable Daily Routine
You could practically tell someone how you'll spend your entire day a month from now. For example, you could tell them exactly where you'll go, what you'll do, who you'll see and what you'll eat.
You Do Things Absentmindedly
Your decisions and actions have become so automatic that it takes little to no thought at all. It's habitual to your daily driven practices like driving the same route everyday.
You Tend To Zone Out
You constantly catch yourself zoned out, thinking about things that aren't currently happening when you're doing something else. Basically, you're mentally checked out in fantasy land.
You Scroll Your Phone Too Much
You automatically check your phone for updates and mindlessly scroll through your emails or social media feed at any opportunity you get.
You're Not Making Any Progress
You make little to no meaningful progress toward your goals as days, weeks and months seem to fly by. You're not focused on what's most important to you in your life and hence you're not working towards it.
Lack Of Excitement
You feel the lack of excitement to go about your day when you wake up because there's nothing you're looking forward to.
Can You Get Out Of It?
To get out of autopilot is to 'awaken'. This is what it means to live a conscious and intentional life. In order to get out this, you need to understand why you get on autopilot in the first place.
Stress And Being Occupied
There are times when things become stressful and busy. Getting through each day becomes tough. With this level of stress and burnout, you can lose connection with your inner selves. You might lack the time or energy to take a step back and think about how you are feeling, the way it's impacting you, and what you want.
Not Knowing There Is An Option To Turn The Autopilot Off
Sometimes, you follow the standard or default path laid out by our society because we don't realise there are other options. Society has always expected us to follow a path of getting a good salaried job, save money for future, this often makes us forget that we should live in the present, follow our dreams, passion and do what we love.
Ways To Get Out Of It
Living on autopilot is equivalent to being completely unaware of one’s thoughts, chronic procrastination may tend to occur and you might feel stuck in repetitive cycles. This can make you feel resentful and depressed.
Subsequently after realising what they are facing, people start working towards leaving autopilot and here are a few ways to do so:
Be Fully Aware
Be fully aware and present while you do a mundane task or chore. Think about how you can do it differently than last time, use your mindfulness to be creative about little things.
Interrupt Your Daily Routine With A New Habit
The path of self-discovery tells you a lot about what you like and what you don't. Eliminate the things that you don't like from your daily routine and add things that you like doing.
Pause Before You React
Instead of reacting naturally, think about it. Sometimes we tend to react on a habitual basis which may not always be the ideal reaction to a particular situation. Reactions should be thought of carefully. Taking a deep breath before reacting will help.
Make Time For Meditation
Take some time out for yourself from your busy schedule even if its just 10 minutes. This will let you observe your thought process as it runs through your mind and you’ll be able to learn better about yourself.
Sometimes not being happy is the only sign you need to change things around yourself. For that, you need to understand what truly makes you happy. It can be a hobby, a job title, a person you like to be around, even food. It could be anything in the world and once you figure that out, you need to make time for it. These moments of joy will only help you build your energy reserves and let you place your focus on things that really matter to you.
The process of getting off autopilot can feel scary and painful even if you know it’ll be beneficial in the long run. It's even more painful to learn that you’re missing out on life itself, however, the realisation is strangely freeing. All you need to do is take the first step. If you you’re able to do that you can definitely turn the autopilot mode off!