• Dr. G

Implementing or Experiencing Change? Try Turning Autopilot Off

We spend spend most of our day living through it instead of in it. That sounds a bit odd, but stay with me as i explain...

You see, we are on a rinse and repeat cycle, where we go to bed reviewing all of the tasks that we still have to complete, we browse through our social media/email platforms, and begin formulating ideas about what we should do the next day. As the next morning arrives, we wake up to the sound of an alarm, we check our phone and perhaps respond to a few emails before fully getting out of bed. This cycle repeats day-after-day.

I've heard some clients say...

"Sometimes, I have to delete all of my social media apps [Instagram, Facebook, Snap], because they suck me into a blackhole for hours at a time without me realizing it. It's like an automatic thing that happens"

All this goes to say that we are living our life on "auto-pilot" we make little time to take control of the wheel and live in the moment. I am guilty of this as well, my scenario goes something like this: a client emails, I respond. A client calls, I answer - you get the point. Stimulus. Response. It's what I call our cognitive auto-pilot feature. The better we get at doing things the more we rely on this feature.

As we implement change for clients or experience change in our own lives, learning to turn-off this feature will help us pay attention to the details of objects, events, people, and projects, but most importantly, it will help us to appreciate what's before us - here and now.

I invite you to stop time and turn-off your auto-pilot with this mindfulness activity. The goal is for you to pay attention to what’s in front of you, one breath at a time. 

Try this for three minutes. 

Minute one: Focus on your breath. Calm your thoughts. 

Minute two: Take an object of your choice (not your phone or tablet) in your hands, pretend like you have never seen it before, curiously investigate every part of this object. Just focus on the details, colors, texture, etc. To stay engaged on the task, you can describe what you see to yourself (you can do it in your mind or out loud).

Minute three: Put the object down. Take a deep breath, release. Close your eyes. Allow your mind to wander for a few seconds, then gently bring it back to your breath. Calm your thoughts. Open your eyes.

I encourage you to come back to this activity when you find yourself deep in the auto-pilot realm of your life. If you are up to the challenge you can try to expand the length of time.

Over the course of time, it will become part of your day and you will be able to manage change instead of change managing you.

Welcome back to your day (or end of day). 

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Abraham Gutsioglou, Ph.D.

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