Autopilot

I’ve come to realize that we are largely on autopilot. We develop a world view, our own personal filter with habitual patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviors equivalent to an autopilot mode. It’s where there’s no need to question, we become what we’ve been socialized and programmed to be and believe that we’re correct and that anyone who challenges us is misinformed. We are egocentric and as long as we are comfortable we keep repeating the same patterns.

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We live in our own insular worlds, trying to avoid anything that threatens our worldview. We socialize with those who are like us and consume media that affirms our beliefs and favor those within our “tribe.” We try and “Keep up with the Joneses” and fit in, because, “What will people think?”

That never made sense to me? What people? Who are these people and what do they have to do with me?

Once we become uncomfortable though, we feel threatened, are fearful and try to keep everything the same as we’re used to, because it’s what has worked up until then,  we’ve been “safe” and unchallenged. We try to make excuses, defend, deny, rationalize, shift blame, divert attention, outright lie trying to keep things the status quo. We want to be right, we want to be safe, we want to be in control. We don’t want to have to learn how to adapt, we want the world to adapt to what we believe, to what we want, even if it no longer works, even if it harms others. Even if it makes no sense.

All we want is to stay safe, on autopilot, under control without any effort, same old, same old, no change. We want to be the ones in power, no matter what.

It is what it is. That’s just how the world is. It’s just how I am. Why rock the boat? I can’t change now, I’ve got to keep inside the lines where I’ve fit for so very long. It’s too hard to change. Why bother anyway, it won’t make any difference. I’m right, you’re wrong.

We talk ourselves out of it before we even begin. And build our own realities to support what feels safe and the norm for us, even if it’s unhealthy for us. Even if it’s harmful to our children, the environment, the world and universe.

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Say for example, I eat an unhealthy diet and have hypertension, diabetes and obesity. The most effective method towards my personal health would be to exercise, eat a plant based diet while shifting my mindset to support new healthy habits. Instead I keep doing what I’ve always done because I’m on autopilot and am resistant to changing.

“It’s too hard, I’m too old to change, I have no willpower, I just can’t.”  We sabotage ourselves because we’re afraid to change. The known feels safer than the unknown. Even if the known is killing us.

Our best bet is to decide we love ourselves enough to do the work, to change so we can live our best lives and also be our best so we can support the best in others and the world.

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This can apply to any situation involving change. Social change, physical change, mental change, spiritual change, etc. The most effective changes are to our internal mindsets. That’s where we have the most power, from inside ourselves. And we shift our habits to support the changes we want to see in ourselves and this ripples out, changing the outer world.

For example, ever been in a really insanely good mood? Aren’t those the best days ever? Ever been in a horrible dark mood? Aren’t those the worst days ever?

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As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…”  Hermes Trismegistus

So if we become uncomfortable, then this is an opportunity to change. It’s a chance to view our lives from a different perspective, not our autopilot set-point, we can now shift gears and level up a notch, if we’re willing to go through a little turbulence to arrive at a better destination. That uncomfortable challenge, that cognitive dissonance, that drama that is surfacing is finally allowing us to have awareness of something we couldn’t see before because our autopilot kept it hidden for us, kept us safe from the darkness we’ve been afraid of, the secrets, the stuff we fear. If we don’t acknowledge it, then it isn’t there, right? (nope) Kind of like how now we have an opportunity to change our society in regards to sexual harassment.

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In order to change we have to be knocked off autopilot long enough to see the real problem. That’s where these seemingly horrible things that happen, health crisis, bankruptcy, divorce, addictions…all the drama, it can also be what saves us. It can be the wake up call we need to force us to change. Resistance really is futile. Change is a given, all of this experience here is temporary and in a constant state of flux. Why fight it? We all have the power to change for the better. And we all have inner access to an innate knowing of what “better” is.

It’s just that we resist doing the work, doing the right thing. But at some point we all have to grow up, right? Our world depends on it. We depend on each other. We’re all in this together whether we believe it or not.

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Autopilot is a very useful human adaptation, it keeps our brains free to work on other stuff, that’s how we’ve achieved all of our amazing technological advances. Yet as with any useful adaptation it has to be minded judiciously.  Tools can be used or abused. And we as humans are capable of mindfulness and are not slaves to our biology. We have a responsibility to keep our autopilot on the correct course because we hold the fate of our world in our collective hands.

At this point in history we are at a tipping point where possibly what we do can not be undone during these turbulent times.

Hopefully rationality, empathy and love will guide us during this opportunity for change.

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It’s never too late to correct course.

I keep doing my best every day, some days I hit the mark, others are way off, yet I keep starting over when needed, it’s an ongoing process. It isn’t easy, there’s no quick fix, at least I haven’t found one yet. The best barometer for me is to ask, “Is this loving, is it kind, to me and everyone else?” How can I make this a win-win or non zero sum game.

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I question and try to be deliberate and root out the truth in any given situation. I have my emotions and honor them, but pause and think before I act. I have my autopilot going on as well. It gets tricky, because triggers point to unresolved glitches in my autopilot. That’s where the autopilot tool needs to be repaired, where I have an opportunity to change and correct course. And it’s not a one time deal, usually it takes a while to fine tune 🙂 So forgiveness and gentleness is key because it’s a lifelong, ongoing process. Change, forgiveness, kindness, empathy and willingness to shift my view are my favorite methods of repair. Then I go on autopilot and enjoy the ride for awhile until the next bit of turbulence. I do my best to have fun along the way while appreciating the view and smooth ride 🙂 We all arrive safely in the end 🙂 Our consciousness/soul is eternal. That belief helps too 🙂 It allows me to let go and be more fearless, allowing me to choose love as my set-point.

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In the end what matters most to you?

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Michelle Miyagi
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