Have you ever driven to work, got there, parked the car and thought, I don’t even remember how I got here?
A scary thought considering you’ve just been in charge of several tonnes of steel. On the occasions when I do remember my drive in, I’m more likely to remember a great song I heard on the radio or if something out of the ordinary happened. Like being cut up or beeped at. So why does it happen in this, and many other areas of our lives? Ladies, let me introduce you to your life on autopilot.
It happens when we’re not paying attention. Allowing our brains to function in the past or the future. “Oh wasn’t life great when…life will be great when I …When we do this our brains whirr away, raking up old memories and experiences, distracting us from the present moment. All very nostalgic I hear you say? Well not really and not good for our health and wellbeing actually. So if you’ve ever felt a bit off balance, like something’s missing or just plain bored, you could well be living your life on autopilot.
I felt like this whilst on maternity leave. I know a lot of people will judge me for this bit, because women are meant to love this time in their lives. Not me. I really struggled with the mundane routine that became my life for 9 months. It was like groundhog day. I thrive on variety and uncertainty. I thought about my career, a lot, and in doing so I felt guilty about the time I was wasting doing so. I struggled and functioned my way through, did an ok job, but constantly thought about the period of time before I had Tilly and what I was going to do once I was back at work. Now that time has passed I still get periods when I feel the same way. Particularly when I’m feeling under pressure or really tired. I allow the routine to govern my life. But now I have a coping mechanism. A few simple things that I do that can bring you back to the here and now.
1.) Acknowledge the mundane things you do and choose something different.
Notice the routines that you follow. Example- Do you eat the same thing for breakfast every day? Why? What could you have that means putting in a little extra effort? Enjoy every mouthful of the new breakfast and notice how it tastes. Go to a different place to walk the dog, try wearing a new colour lipstick….
2.) Consider what makes you happy. Write a list of the activities that make you smile, really smile. How often do you make time for these things? Make a conscious effort to make space to do these things. I went to see Coldplay for the millionth time last week. It meant driving all the way to Cardiff via my sisters who agreed to look after the kids. But all the effort is so worth it. When I’m there I am so present in how the music and atmosphere makes me feel. I soak up every single minute. The pure joy that just being there brings me. I sing until my throat is on fire. In between concerts I blast their music out at home and in the car. One of many things that makes me really happy.
3.) Have a phone amnesty. What I hear you cry? My life is on that phone! Yes, and that’s the problem. When we spend the majority of our time interfacing with our devices, we lose the ability to form meaningful relationships and those we have, we de-value by showing more love to our number of ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ we get. We miss so much by having our noses glued to the screen and my daughter made me well aware of how she felt about this very recently. Since her famous line, “Mummy why do you love your phone more than me?” I no longer pick up the damn thing while she is around. The payback is massive and one my future self will thank me for when she’s all grown up and too busy with her phone to talk to me.
Notice more. Love more. Live life to the full. If you’d like to work on your emotional fitness, come and pay us a visit at www.violetandcharlie.com and check out our 3rd secret, I’m pretty fit. It could be the shift you need to break free from autopilot.