Have you ever driven home a different direction than you’re used to, and suddenly everything looks completely different? I did this just the other day. They were doing road work near my house and diverted traffic. While coming down a different street than normal, I almost passed my own house up!
Was I developing early onset dementia? NO! I’m just used to going home the same way every day; it’s a habit.
Researchers have found that people are running on “autopilot” for 45% of their waking hours. What this means is that we have formed many small habits that we do without even thinking about it. Our brain can only make so many decisions each day. And while things like driving home the same way saves our energy for more important decisions, I can’t help but question how much of this “autopilot” mode transpires into the rest of our lives. It would seem as though it’s the culprit in keeping us unconsciously stagnant, unfulfilled, and unhappy with the results we are getting.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – Albert Einstein
What if our eating habits are on autopilot? That could explain why we go for junk food at night, even though we want and expect different results and simply don’t get them?
What are you missing out on by running on autopilot?
I believe running on autopilot is a form of choosing to live in fear. It keeps us unconsciously stuck in years of old habits, grounded in practicality, and afraid to step out of our comfort zone and consciously make decisions.
How do I know that? Well, I just explained myself and how I used to live. For the longest time, it was as though I was just going through the motions of life. Not in a bad, or depressing way, but in a way where I knew something was missing. But autopilot was just so darn safe. It didn’t force me even to consider breaking outside of my comfort zone. And without realizing it, my comfort zone was fear.
Autopilot determines our path
If we let it, autopilot will keep us on the same fear based path. And while it may seem harmless, I want you to question what it’s causing you to miss?
We just got back from vacation a few weeks ago. We were staying at a beautiful resort in Hilton Head Island that was tucked away in the midst of gorgeous, lush trees, golf courses, and bike trails. Although beautiful, it was a bit of a maze to find our condominium building. Towards the end of the week, I was finally confident that I knew my way around the plantation. Every day I had been taking a morning run around the area. My brain was programmed to know every turn and road to take, without using any of my energy to think about it.
Each day as I would start my run, I would pass by a back entrance to the plantation. I knew this back entrance led to beautiful views of beach homes and nature trails, but I wasn’t familiar with that area, and it was easier for me to run on the route that I already knew. I told myself, let’s just get this run over with and come back for breakfast (autopilot), so I would quickly pass by and wonder for just a second what it was like, but never actually go that way.
It was our last full day of vacation and as I prepared for my morning run and started my podcast, which was titled “Courage” I took a moment to soak in all the beauty around me. Something guided me that morning, and my inner voice told me to take that back entrance route. I didn’t want to leave without knowing what kind of beautiful views were back there.
While I was running on that new route, I began to question if I was going the right way. I thought I had an idea of where I was going, but somehow became disoriented and was convinced I had taken a wrong turn. Sweaty and tired, I almost turned around to try and find my way back. How often does this scenario transpire in our lives? The moment we lose our bearings on an unknown path, we want to turn around and go back, without realizing how close we are to our desired destination.
Where are your wounds?
While running, I was listening to a Podcast by Sean Croxton “The Quote of The Day Show.” And I heard something that stopped me in my tracks.
“When you go before your creator, God will ask, where are your wounds? And if you reply, I have no wounds, God will ask, was there nothing worth fighting for? When you look back on your life one day, you will not regret what you’ve done nearly as much as what you haven’t done. And what you haven’t done will be because of fear.”
(You can find the full episode here, I absolutely love this podcast!)
It made me realize just how much fear keeps me on the same road every day. Even something so small like choosing to run the same route every day demonstrates our innate nature to not venture out of the ordinary.
But does ordinary catapult us to something greater than ourselves?
The truth is when you decide to take another route in life, you will get wounds. You will question if you’re on the right path, and will have the urge to go back to “comfortable.” But if you stick it out, and see comfortable for what it is, what awaits you is so much better.
That morning while feeling lost, I decided to walk a little further. Hidden amongst the trees, I stumbled upon a beach access walk. It led me straight to the ocean. From there, not only could I see exactly which way I needed to go, but I had the most beautiful, peaceful walk back. There’s something so majestic about the ocean. As I watched the waves crash and felt the warm sun on my face, I felt so guided, so loved, and so happy, it was the perfect way to end my vacation.
I realized that morning that I’m so quick to turn back the second I get disoriented or can’t define extactly what is I’m moving toward. Because in our lives, sometimes we can’t explain what that it is, even though we know it’s something extraordinary. I didn’t necessarily set out that morning to find the beach, but by being open to a new path, I was led there.
I believe we all have a power within us that we want to release. We have a dream or talent of some sort that could spread so much joy and love in a world that desperately needs it. But by making decisions through fear, we keep ourselves stuck in “practicality” or “comfort.”
Just like me starting this blog. It’s so far out my comfort zone. All of these small habits that I’m changing, they challenge me, and so often I have the urge to go back. But the one thing I’ve learned is that when I have these urges, it’s my fear talking to me. I used to try and ignore fear and pretend it wasn’t there, but it always crept back up. “Who are you to start this blog, you aren’t smart enough to write, no one will connect with what you have to say, what’s the point, you only have 11 subscribers.” I just gave you guys a real life insight into my fear.
So how have I been able to move forward?
Wake up from autopilot
“The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength.” – A Course In Miracles
To be completely honest, I feel like most of my life I have been relying on my own strength. Like I had control, and I could get myself through. But I’m here to tell you, the more I relied on myself, the louder my fear was.
Here are three ways I have woken up from living my life in autopilot mode, AKA, fear.
Recognize the fear and feel it
This one is huge! For so long, I lived trying to avoid fear, and in my pursuit of avoiding it, I was living in it. I read something recently from Gabrielle Bernstein in her book The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith (which by the way, is an incredible book!)
“Feeling the pain allows it to pass through you, and strips away its power. Letting yourself feel the pain releases you from fearing it. Rather than acting out or pouring all your energy into avoiding discomfort, you can just feel. And when you do that, you can truly embrace the Universal assignment and heal the pattern for good.”
Recognizing my fear and feeling it has been such a powerful way for me to strip it of its power. Once it’s exposed for what it is, it has no power. The more you can recognize fear and feel it, the more conscious and awake you are.
Show yourself compassion
If you’re like me, showing myself compassion doesn’t come quickly. I’m great at having and showing compassion for others, but not myself. I’m pretty hard on myself, as I think most of us are! But as you take that brave step in recognizing fear and letting yourself feel it, the KEY in healing is to showing yourself compassion.
“You’ll likely notice a sense of peace set in as you begin to feel your feelings, which unshackles you from fear. The next step is to call on compassion. The pathway to healing old wounds is through honoring yourself for all that you’ve been through, acknowledging the conditioning that you’ve experienced and compassionately loving yourself back to peace. Compassion is the antidote to anger, resentment, and fear. Compassion gives you permission to let go and allow deep healing to begin.” – Gabrielle Bernstein
Have the compassion for yourself that you would have for a small child, speaking in a loving tone as you honor yourself for being able to recognize fear and choosing to live a different way.
Rely on your faith
I’m going to share this quote again because it’s so powerful!
“The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength.”
We all know this feeling like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. We’re running around trying to fix everything ourselves, and anxiety, fear, and frustration are the result.
Take a deep breath.. stop relying on your own strength. Place everything you have in faith, whatever that looks like for you, for me it’s God. Know that you are loved, guided and supported, even during times that don’t make sense. You don’t have to have the answers; you just have to have faith knowing that all things are working together for your good,
Feel that pressure immediately lift!
Take a small step outside your comfort zone
Don’t be fearful if the road you take looks different. Whether it’s something small like waking up earlier in the mornings, or something big, like changing career paths, know and trust that you are being guided. Take that small step in faith in a different direction and see the creative opportunities that begin to open up for you.
Take one small step today,