We go on autopilot several times during the day and that is completely normal. Your brain always saves energy for future needs, and does so by automating and simplifying most of what you do. This is called your default mode network (DMN) or autopilot. Your autopilot is very good to have, so you don’t have to think about everything. Imagine if every time you brushed your teeth you would have to think about how you held the toothbrush. Or which leg should go first in each trouser leg. Or how to turn on the coffee maker. Or how to open the front door. Your subconscious mind allows you to do lots of things on autopilot, otherwise you would have zero energy left in your brain.
The problem is not that we automate, but when we go on autopilot most of the time. That's when we are not present, we can’t make conscious choices and we get stuck in a route or certain reactions. As you become more self-aware, you can start noticing when you are on autopilot and when you need to get back to the present.
Signs of being on autopilot

  • You do what you are supposed to, but are not present in everyday life. You are not growing and your decisions are not well thought out.
  • You wake up in the morning and are overwhelmed, stressed and unprepared for the day.
  • You are always on your mobile phone. It’s the first thing you check in the morning, you scroll through social media and e-mail many times during the day and the mobile phone is the last thing you see before you fall asleep in the evening.
  • You dwell on the past. You often think about the mistakes you have made, what you regret and "what if…."
  • You have a hard time remembering simple things, because you are not present. Where did I put the keys? Did I close the door or not? What did she say?
  • You often think negatively about yourself in different situations, it happens automatically. You criticize yourself, belittle yourself and don’t think you can handle things. You rarely think of something positive about yourself, because the negative is automated.
  • You are not present in the room. You are there physically, but mentally you are somewhere else.


How can you get out of your autopilot?
  1. The first step is to realize when you are in autopilot.
  2. Be more present in what you do and around your choices.
  3. Connect with yourself by moving your body, meditation or breathing.
  4. Say STOP to yourself as soon as you notice that you are on autopilot, slow down for a minute and really think and feel, then choose a new route.
  5. Understand that you need to do this over and over again, every day, until you become so aware when you’re on autopilot that you can stop it before it happens.