Note: The views, information and, opinions expressed in this blog are solely of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of Free Your Mind Initiative and Speak Your Mind. The contents of this blog are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In the event of a medical emergency, please call your doctor or 911 or other local emergency numbers immediately.
Autopilot is a protective mechanism for our brains to buffer us from going into overload.
Autopilot is the main reason why people procrastinate or avoid important tasks by masking them with other easier activities that keeps one occupied:
When a behavior or thought pattern is practiced enough, our brains eventually adapt and turn it into an automatic process (ex. habit) so it can save the mental energy for other more novel experiences. This is an adaptation mechanism that spreads into areas of our brain that need to be enacted for more forethought (ex our thought patterns/our goals/our physical health/our ego-driven behavior), it becomes a problem – costing us our emotional well-being and happiness.
Avoid pain through distraction. It is easier to transport our mind away from reality to a place where it feels safe. Some ways we distract ourselves by:
- Doing things without thinking
- Zoning out a lot
- Struggle with remembering details
- Passive with your goals
- Saying yes to things you don’t want to do because you are unsure of your own needs
- You spend hours mindlessly scrolling on your phone
- Overthinking the future
- Making empty plans
- Developing excessive habits of consuming alcohol/food/drugs to “numb” ourselves
- You dread the day ahead because there is nothing to look forward to
- You fill your day with mindless activity
Distractions aren’t necessarily unhealthy. But when the autopilot lifestyle becomes habitual and automatic, it can result in us getting by in life without a purpose and makes it very difficult for us to make conscious decisions about how we want to live, where we want to work, and what parts of us need to heal.
Tips to get your brain off autopilot
- Get to know yourself in your niches, purpose, etc.
- What do you want to achieve in the next month, in a year, in life? – doable goals
- What toxic habits or thoughts are preventing you from moving forward?
Focus on your future goals – being reasonable/doable goals
- Acknowledge your maladaptive habits and thought patterns will not be easy to change
- Focus on who you want your future self to be (be specific)
- Set realistic goals every day that can bring you closer to your future vision
- Remind yourself of these goals every day – journaling to keep track
Stay on track
- Do the work every day to work on your future self
- When you become overwhelmed and feel like giving up, be kind to yourself and remember that this is also part of the process
- Learning: harder the task – the more you’re getting it and ingraining it into yourself
- Easier it feels – not being optimal
- Reflect on your progress once a week. Are your daily goals achievable or do they need some tweaking
This may be an uncomfortable process that one will face resistance against, as it would be for any changes in one’s life. The resistance is unlearning old habits. Being aware to not make the same choices you made the day before is a new mindset to keep throughout the day, it could be through subtle changes of guidance in one’s life such as journaling, meditating for 5-10 minutes daily, self-development is a habit that will not be an autopilot activity, rather you will see yourself change for the better little by litter. We are not predetermined with the mindsets we have, so it is possible for you to change your mindset and work on healing, you just need to invest time and be dedicated to small commitments.
Note: The Free Your Mind Mental Health Society is an independent youth-led organization. The contents of this blog are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In the event of a medical emergency, please call your doctor or 911 or other local emergency numbers immediately.