Switching Off Auto-Pilot

By | August 3, 2016 at 8:25 pm | No comments | Columns, Life & Career Coach

By Sunny Simon

Looking down at my dinner plate I realized the meal was half eaten and I hardly remembered tasting my food. Puzzled, I began breaking down the past few days that I had labeled as my “klutzy week.” Suddenly it dawned on me I wasn’t just prone to spilling and dropping things, I was operating on auto-pilot and apparently my pilot was barely awake at the controls.

More often than not last week my body was in the here and now, but my mind was off wandering taking me wherever it wanted to go. Feeling a little mentally mushy I reminded myself there was no need for panic. Auto pilot is beneficial at times as our brains have the ability to guide us through established tasks while our thoughts work problem solving. It’s okay to let auto pilot take control sometimes, but I reprimanded myself for lazily allowing my automated mode too much power.

The opposite of auto-piloting is mindfulness. My half eaten meal was my wake-up call. I needed to evoke some strategies to practice awareness. Three such techniques were recommended by Henrik, a Swedish blogger I follow. The first, hardly a profound suggestion, but non-the-less good advice: slow down. Color me guilty for rushing through mundane tasks causing spills and dropping objects while my mind was somewhere in a far off land. It stands to reason when we slow down the pace, efficiency takes over.

The second strategy I grasped immediately: Tell yourself – now I am. Reminding yourself of what you are doing in the present moment does more than prevent your mind from wandering. By remaining mindful, we capture and fully appreciate the experience whether it’s observing a hummingbird drink from a flower, watching a child at play or sipping a cool lemonade.

Ever find yourself ruminating over an issue or beating yourself up for making a mistake? Sure, we are all guilty of that. Reach for the third technique when that happens by disrupting your inner critic. Speak to that mind-gremlin reminding the little voice in your head you are not going down that path for the 17th time. Then bring your thoughts back to the present.

Why not take the mindfulness challenge with me. Stay in the moment by using the mentioned techniques. Changing up your routines is also helpful. Take a new route home, or have breakfast for dinner. If you always read fiction, try absorbing a memoir. Stop muti-tasking and start uni-tasking. I wish you a week filled with joy and awareness.

Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching and the author of the blog, www.lifeonthesunnyside.net

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