Your brain likes to conserve energy. Lots of things you do occur on autopilot so that you can function easily and swiftly. But possibly less helpful are your thoughts on autopilot.
Me and My Big Mouth!
You may find you go through the motions of your life on autopilot. Yet it’s not just your day-to-day actions but also your thoughts that might have become set in their ways.
Do you spend a lot of time expressing critical opinions to others as well as to yourself? Your mind reacts to language, politics, religion, in fact, to the world, with knee-jerk reactions.
This is autopilot within your unexplored mind – life on autopilot in its most powerful yet sometimes undermining way.
My Own Tricky Thoughts
We all fall for our thoughts; hook, line and sinker. We are often fused with them. Do you notice how you label yourself without a moment’s pause –
‘I am this kind of person.’
‘I am an anxious person.’
‘I’m a perfectionist.’
‘I’m not good enough.’
‘I never do this.’
‘I always do that.’
We put ourselves into categories. Or we take on a role – cynical, humorous, responsible or even grumpy! We give ourselves that label and others do too.
Mindfulness Means You Can Become More Aware
It doesn’t have to be that way. With mindful skills you can de-fuse from beliefs, thoughts and opinions that you originally thought were immoveable truths. It doesn’t necessarily matter where they came from. What matters, is if they are helpful for you today.
Are these beliefs, thoughts and opinions, when acted on, leading you towards the person you wish to be? So that you can live a happy and meaningful life? Or do they prevent you from taking actions that support your wellbeing, your relationships and your life?
If you’re happy with your thoughts and opinions, and the life you are living, you may not see the need to learn to be more mindful. It can churn up difficult thoughts such as guilt, distaste, anger or resentment.
It can be inconvenient to question things! Many humans prefer the status quo. Being mindful means that you don’t take anything for granted – not even your thoughts!
Break Free from the Trap of Thoughts on Autopilot
It’s easy to become trapped in all kinds of behaviours and thoughts. Simple moments of mindful presence can interrupt this routine.
- Any time in the day, stop and notice what thoughts you’re buying into and what behaviours you discover are happening.
- Notice your feet and let yourself feel grounded.
- Become aware of your breath.
- Soften the tension in your body.
- Look around at your surroundings.
Families on Autopilot
It can be easy to take family life for granted. We get caught up in routines. It’s easy to be critical or dismissive of our loved-ones:
‘Tidy your bedroom.’
‘Why are you so late again?’
‘I’m too busy.’
What might it feel like to stop yourself before you say the same old things?
A Powerful Pause
For just a moment you can implement a powerful pause. Part of ‘you’ can notice what you are doing. This is you in the present moment.
Habits and behaviours are deeply rooted. A powerful pause lets you bring mindfulness to your situation and can start to shift old patterns.
‘Your True Self exists in the stillness that lies between and beyond your thoughts. You exist in that very still, peaceful place that you experience when your mind is clear, calm and alert.’
Some Mindful Tips Following That Pause
- Be still.
- Get interested in what you’re thinking.
- Acknowledge your body’s reactions and emotions.
- Give yourself a few minutes to meditate – sit with your breath and listen in to yourself.
- Maybe it’s time to change gears from life on autopilot. Time to look anew at the way you think and behave.
Let me know if I can help as a Mindfulness & Meditation Coach, based in Hampshire.
Further inspiration: ACT Mindfully, Dr Russ Harris
Yvette Jane – Place of Serenity