5 Signs You’re Living on Autopilot & How to Take Control

Living on autopilot is basically the opposite of being mindful. If you’re on autopilot, you’re letting your brain’s automatic function kick in for daily habits, thought processes and decisions and that means you can easily find yourself missing parts of your life, missing chances to learn or grow and getting caught in a spiral of the mundane.

Here’s how you can tell if you’re on autopilot, and most importantly, how to take back control!

1.      You do things without thinking

There are a plenty of tasks or activities that we all complete each day which don’t necessarily require much thought, but if you’re living on autopilot you might be doing these things without even knowing why, or actually experiencing them. For example, how often do you get up, shower, get dressed and / or make your morning coffee without even thinking about what you’re doing? Living on autopilot means we miss out on the opportunity to be present in the moment & listen to what our body really wants or needs. Maybe you don’t actually need a coffee this morning, but you make it anyway because you’re not in control.

Take control: try to notice the small daily tasks you complete and be present throughout them. In the shower, try to check-in with how the warm water feels or the scent of your shampoo. Ask yourself what you need each morning, are you really hungry for breakfast at the same time each day or can you wait a bit?


2.      You over-commit

Living on autopilot means we don’t take time to consider the consequences of saying ‘yes’ to a social occasion, extra workload or commitment to friend or family member. Before you realise it you’ve got a calendar full of things you don’t actually want to do, because your default setting is to say ‘yes’.

Take control: take a moment to pause and reflect before agreeing to anything. Don’t be scared to say ‘let me check my diary / workload and get back to you tomorrow’ and give yourself the time to decide whether you really want to, or have the time to, say yes.


3.      You forget parts of your day

Ever arrive at a destination and have no memory of how you got there? Ever been asked ‘how was your day’ and not been able to remember any specific parts of it? Hello autopilot! When we relinquish control of our routine to the automatic functions in the brain we switch off from the details and let our mind wander. This means we end up missing huge parts of our day…parts which might actually have brought opportunity, joy or interaction, but instead disappear into a brain fog of nothingness.

Take control: pretend you’re a tourist in your own home town. Take a different mode of transport or a different route to / from work or your usual destination and try to pick out 1 new thing from your journey which you didn’t notice before, or which bring you joy.


4.      You waste time

Letting the mind wander or allowing the mind to become distracted from boring or difficult tasks is completely normal, but also a sign you’re allowing it to take control. The human mind hates discomfort and will search for any distraction possible to remove the sensation. If you notice you’re scrolling through social media, your favourite news app or taking mindless Buzzfeed quizzes on a constant basis, this is a sign you’re on autopilot. This leads to hours and hours of wasted time, when you could have been working on something meaningful, learning something new, reading a good book or simply connecting with an old (or new!) friend.

Take control: move your social media apps to a difficult place to reach on your phone, and notice how many times you go to open them without thinking. Take a pause each time and notice what you’re trying to distract yourself from. See if you can choose another task instead.


5.      Your feeling like you’re existing rather than living

When the brain is on autopilot you relinquish control of your life choices and let yourself drop into age-old habits. You rarely do anything new, put yourself into challenging situations or see new opportunities. As a result, it may feel like life is just passing you by and taking you on a ride as an innocent passenger. Maybe you have a deeper sense that there must be something more out there, or feel a craving for a sense of purpose?

Take control: set yourself a challenge to try one new thing a month. It can be a new recipe, a new fitness class, taking up a hobby, or even introducing yourself to a new person. Anything that triggers a feeling of challenge and living! It doesn’t matter how long you keep up the new thing, just keep trying something new whenever things get stagnant.


Did you identify with one or more of these symptoms? Practising mindfulness and meditation is proven to help alleviate these symptoms of disconnect and depression which come from living on autopilot and enable you to lead a lighter, more positive and fulfilled life.

Try my ‘Couch to Connected’ 5-Day Challenge to kick-start your journey to coming off auto-pilot & taking back control!

This is mindfulness for complete beginners. The techniques are easy, practical and designed with a busy modern lifestyle in mind! In just 5 days you can start to feel more positive, grateful and connected! Find out more here

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