I seem to be on Autopilot…


The Autopilot… What a great invention! It allows the pilot to relax while the airplane’s computer takes over the controls of the flight automatically. No thinking or concentration required. The autopilot does the work.

Your brain can also be on autopilot. In this case the autopilot is “a cognitive state in which you act without self-awareness”. Many times every day your brain goes into ‘autopilot’ when you drive your car, when you eat your lunch, when you breathe while talking to a friend.

Many things in life are done subconsciously and do not require you to stop and think about how or what you are doing.

But consider this… sometimes you need to force yourself to stop and to think. Stop and think about your thoughts.

Before I explain why I say this, think about the following questions:

-Have you ever thought about the importance of your thinking?

-Do you proactively manage your thoughts during every day?

-Are you consciously aware of when your thinking is starting to pull you down?

-Have you noticed the relationship between your thoughts and your emotions and actions?

Managing our thinking plays such a powerful force in our lives that many scholars, thinkers and authors throughout the ages have referred to the importance of it. In fact the Bible says that our lives are greatly determined by our thought life (Proverbs 4:23)

Scientists have even created theories and formulas around the natural tendencies of certain things in nature to go from an ordered state to a state of chaos.

It has recently dawned on me that just as a computer has a “default setting” where it reverts back to the standard programme, my thoughts also seem to have a default setting…an autopilot. When I am not focussed in my thinking, my brain reverts back to it “autopilot programme”.

To be honest though, this autopilot function is however not one that I would choose to have.

Why not?

Because this autopilot programme in my mind, is not one that will let me grow, develop and improve. It is a programme that defaults to comfort zones, to safety and to pessimism. It is lazy and prefers inaction to action. It is self-centred and selfish and does not seek challenges, growth, giving or effort. It makes me want to lie on the couch in front of the TV. It wants me to sleep late instead of get up early to exercise. It makes me gravitate to junk food, procrastination and gossip. It finds comfort in blaming and finding excuses, instead of focussing on solutions.

It is hard to admit, but it seeks to destroy me.

Therefore, I have to manage it, instead of allowing it to manage me. I decide what I want and then I focus on keeping my thinking, my words, my emotions and my actions in line with this decision. I do this at the start of every day and during the day, whenever I become aware that the autopilot wants to take over.

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

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~ by Danie van den Berg on 17/02/2010.

2 Responses to “I seem to be on Autopilot…”

  1. I look at autopilot in a slightly different light. Autopilot can be a great advantage in your life, but with certain conditions in place. Autopilot is also thinking, it is your historic thinking where you made certain decissions about certain things. Those decissions became programmes and these programmes are run on autopilot in your subconscious. Your autopilot gives you a huge advantage if used correctly, in the fact that you don’t have to think about everything in your life. For example, if you made certain decissions about your health for example; that low fat foods are better for you. That becomes part of your programme and runs in your subconsious mind. So when you walk in Pick & Pay buying stuff, your autopilot will guide you toward the low fat foods, because that is what your programme contains.

    The problem however is the fact and this is the condition for autopilot. You have to decide what the programme should contain. And remember you are in control of your thoughts and you can change any programme you are not happy with. If there is no programme, your mind will do whatever is the easiest, like lie on the couch and watch TV. But if your programme contains anything like when I have free time, I want to read a book, it will motivate you to do just that.

    So in short. The programme in your subconsious mind controls the autopilot. If you have the right programmes, which you are responsible for, your autopilot will always do what you want it to do, without you having think about it.

    But yes, sometimes we have new experiences and there we have to think about things, to decide how we want to react to similar future experiences. Our minds and the fact that we can decide how and what we want to believe and focus on makes us unique in the universe. Amazing how God made us in His image….

  2. Uitstekend!! Laat my vra: Kan ek my autopilot herprogrammeer? Ek dink verseker JA… Ek sien my natuurlike neigings hierin, laat my besef ek moet definitiewe besluite neem oor my gedagte wêreld, daardie gedagtes inoefen dat dit my “nuwe” autopilot kan word.

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