Brain Features: The Automatic Pilot

6 min. reading time

The previous blog was about what gives you attention taking up more and more space. Today a sequel. Over time, what you often do becomes more and more 'self-evident'. Our brains tend to do tasks we repeat more and more 'automatically'. 

The autopilot


And that has many advantages. We do all kinds of things all day long without having to think about it. It's nice that you can have a conversation while you're driving. Quite a difference from those first driving lessons, where deep focus and sloshing armpits were needed to keep the car on the road. The nice thing about the fact that after a while your brain seems to pick up tasks 'by itself', is that you have room for other things. 

A term that is used, especially in mindfulness, is 'the autopilot'. Just like in an aeroplane, your brain seems to have a position that makes almost everything go by itself. 

The Automatic Pilot

When the autopilot doesn't help...


Quite relaxing, such an autopilot. But regularly this also goes wrong. Our brains 'automate' our thinking, doing and feeling - and also negative patterns. For example:

  • Negative thoughts about yourself that keep coming up
  • Unwanted habits such as nail biting
  • Sitting on social media too often
  • Always experiencing certain negative feelings

The solution? A conscious reflection on your own autopilot. What ways of reacting do you recognise for yourself that bother you? You can subdivide this:

  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • Behaviour
  • Attention


When you recognise a pattern, that's the first step. You are then aware of it, the most important part! After that it is about slowly changing, which means that you consciously choose different patterns. For example, your intention to be a little more active every day, and to stick to it. Or consciously train your attention with mindfulness, so that less attention goes to the pain. For the different categories you can find tips and exercises in previous and future blogs!

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