In the chaos of modern life, most of us don’t sit around and think, How do I want to show up?” Instead, we mostly operate on autopilot. By that, I mean we mostly live without being mindful in our actions or behaviors.
But how can you blame us? After processing the insane amount of information coming at us moment by moment, there is very little room for anything but mindless reactivity. This is particularly true when we are stressed and busy. And really, who do you know who isn’t stressed and busy?
This is a great set-up for a discussion of mindfulness and the importance thereof, because being mindful—not going on autopilot—is obviously what’s best. However, becoming mindful isn’t something you snap your fingers and just decide to become. And thinking that it is a quick switch will only set you back on your path to mindfulness because these auto-choices are deeply ingrained.
We each came to our mind-less tendencies because at some point in our development they helped us cope with something difficult, be it a situation, a person, a feeling. So, we added that coping mechanism to our life toolbelt and went on our way, breaking out these responses whenever life got challenging.
And while some might look positively at having an autopilot response that one should succeed in school to feel good about yourself, feeling like you need to be perfect and succeed in everything you do, to make sure you are lovable, may not be such a great way to think and operate.
So what are your mindless assumptions and behaviors?
Are you someone who retreats into self-isolation, or do turn to food to soothe anxiety? Do you feel like it’s up to you to save the world, or at least the school fundraiser? Or is it essential that people could eat off your floor and do you judge others for keeping a home where you couldn’t?
Simply identifying these as auto-responses may not make you drop them and become someone you’re not, but it is a first step to a creating a life where you can make more mindful choices.