Are you living on autopilot? Five ways to become more present and in control of your life

Are you living life on autopilot? Wish you could get out of your head and stop sleepwalking through your day? Here are five ways you can become more present and in control of your life.

How often have you found yourself driving somewhere, and getting to your intended destination, but having ZERO clue how you got there?

Now check into just how often you have these zone-outs in your everyday life. Do you find yourself trapped in thought about everything else, other than what you’re doing in that moment? Or getting so consumed with your never-ending to-do list that you end up procrastinating and getting nothing done?

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It could be that you’re living on autopilot.

Are you living on autopilot?

Hands up if any of this relates to you:

  • Walking into a room to do something and forgetting what it was the minute you step foot in there.
  • Going onto social media to contact someone, and finding yourself an hour later aimlessly scrolling.
  • Being in a conversation with someone and realizing that you haven’t been listening to a word they’ve been saying.
  • Staring into space as your mind goes into flatline.
  • Blanking on names of people you’ve met, or things you’ve done in the last day or week.
  • Saying ‘yes’ to things when you really want to say ‘no’ because it’s just easier that way.

Here are some other signs you may be on autopilot.

You fall into everyday trances

Being in autopilot, is otherwise be known as an ‘everyday trance’. It’s a form of self-hypnosis when our brains are so overloaded that we hit the fuel reserve mode. These everyday trances of being in a mindless state lead to becoming detached and less engaged with the world around us.

You’re constantly in your head

Being in constant over-thinking autopilot mode can lead to and disconnection from the body. Over-time this can lead to health problems such as persistent illness and being receptive to every virus going around. You may experience constant aches and pains. This is  our body’s attempt to communicate that there’s something wrong, and we’re not paying attention to our own needs.

You’re sleep walking through the day

Creating automatic choices, which could be anything from saying ‘yes’ to things we want to say ‘no’ to, picking the same lunch five days a week, or spending yet another night scrolling instead of going to sleep is an evolutionary way of making sure the brain doesn’t get over-loaded with information turned into a habitual way of living.

You’re driven by fear

Some autopilot behaviours are driven by a fear, or anxiety that you’re none-too-many steps away from disaster. Or, at least that’s what your brain is telling you. Being on autopilot creates a short-term ‘pleasure’ solution to avoid the worse-case scenario from happening.

Five ways you can become more present and in control of your life

While we can’t change what’s driving the overwhelm overnight, we can start using simple mindfulness and awareness techniques to consciously step out of autopilot mode to allow ourselves to become more present. Here are five ways to become more present and in control of your life.

1) Become aware of your ‘states’

We are in a constant flux of emotional ‘states’ each day, whether that’s feeling tired, happy, alert, anxious, calm, nervous, excited. Becoming aware of states which may drive you into autopilot will also help with the awareness that each state is temporary, and you can pass through each one without trying to hold on to them.

2) Become aware of your body talk

Take notice if you’re getting constant coughs, colds or viruses, or where your aches and pains are coming from in your body. Start a dialogue with your body and ask it to tell you what’s going on. This will help you to drop out of your head, and get some communication with what you need to really focus on, and what your body needs.

3) Take notice through your senses

Practice the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 mindfulness method. Wherever you are become aware and take notice of five things you can see, hear and feel; then four things you can see, hear and feel; then three things you can see, hear and feel; then two things you can see, hear and feel; then one thing you can see, hear and feel. Notice how possible it is to become present with the detail of all the things around you.

4) Start exercising your ‘no’ muscle

This is going to take a bit more work, but start saying ‘no’more often. Remember, no is a complete sentence. If that feels too difficult, start creating better negotiations and boundaries by saying ‘That doesn’t work for me, but what I can do is X instead.’

5) Focus on one thing at a time

Multitasking is the biggest misnomer to benefitting productivity and has a huge impact on our emotional health. It’s time to ditch working your way the lengthy to-do lists, and instead just pick one thing.

If you’re telling yourself they’re all priority, then just pick one at random, and focus on getting that done until it’s done. If it’s something which is more complex, then break it down into smaller chunks and focus on completing it bit by bit, one chunk at a time.

Kate Taylor is a creativity and empowerment coach and creator of the Practical Magic Activation Deck, a toolkit designed to help you activate positive changes each and every day, and have a life coach to hand whenever you need one. Find out more about it and pre-order via Kickstarter until 24 May 2018

Photo by Becca Matimba