How to stop living on autopilot – The is key is to develop self-awareness
In the course of our lives, our brain has developed an ingenious system to carry out routine tasks automatically and without effort. That makes our everyday life a lot easier for us.
This becomes clear when we take a look at how we drive cars. There is so much information automatically processed, we are reacting to most situations unconsciously, and we are even shifting gears or pushing the break, without thinking about it.
95% of our decisions are made this way.
The problem is it’s very comfortable to just do things unconsciously and just let life happen. Modern life has hijacked the system that our brain developed for these routine tasks. We spend our everyday life more and more unconsciously. Our minds are constantly wandering around and we “multitask” to save time and because it would be too boring to focus on just one thing.
We use the smartphone while the TV is on, make calls while driving to work, or check e-mails while we eat.
The result is that we are hardly aware of our actions and decisions, we no longer question them and it becomes easy to manipulate us and we’re not even noticing it. Companies, for example, take advantage of this in their advertising and even politics takes advantage of this fact.
In many situations, our behavior becomes similar to that of a robot and no longer corresponds to our authentic self. We are living on autopilot, reacting automatically and unconsciously to what happens.
But autopilot is not the only driving option we have! The way to get back into the driver’s seat is to train your self-awareness.
What is Self-Awareness?
Self-awareness involves being aware of different aspects of the self including thoughts, behaviors, and feelings.
Being self-aware leads to better decision-making, improved mood, clearer thinking, more effective communication, increased productivity, and many other benefits.
4 Examples of Self-Awareness:
- The ability to identify and focus on something positive when in a negative situation.
- Being able to identify and control your emotions in the moment.
- Being able to define your own beliefs without being influenced by others.
- The ability to recognize bad habits and emotional triggers so you can react to them
How to Develop and Improve Self-Awareness?
Try these two easy steps and start increasing your self-awareness today:
1) Building self-awareness by identifying your emotions
Identify your emotions several times during the day. Whenever something happens (e.g. you get a call from a friend, your boss assigns you a task, you’re coming back from work and see your family).
Ask yourself: How do I feel at this moment? What causes these positive/negative emotions?
Try not to change them in the beginning. Just train to become the observer of your emotional state. For some people, an „emotional state diary“ is a great help.
2 ) Improve self-awareness by becoming aware of what YOU think
Distinguish your own beliefs from others: Our society tricks us about what we should believe, what is right and what is wrong. Many people feel the constant pressure to fit in with the people around them (family, friends, colleagues).
Try to become self-aware of what YOU think. Am I doing or saying this to please others? Is this my opinion or thought? Have I based my decision on my experience, beliefs, and knowledge or the thoughts and expectation of others?
“Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong, good or bad.” – Debbie Ford