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Brain functions: The autopilot

6 min. reading time

The last blog was about the fact that what gives you attention takes up more and more space. Today, a continuation. Over time, what you do often becomes more and more 'natural'. Our brain tends to perform tasks we repeat more and more 'automatically'.

The autopilot

And this has many benefits. We do all sorts of things throughout the day without having to think about it. It's nice to be able to have a conversation while driving. Quite a difference from the first driving lessons, when you still had to concentrate a lot and swivel your armpits to keep the car on the road. The nice thing about the fact that your brain seems to take over tasks "by itself" after a while is that you have room for other things. 

A term used primarily in mindfulness is "the autopilot." Just like in an airplane, your brain seems to have a position that lets almost everything run by itself. 

The Automatic Pilot

When the autopilot doesn't help...

An autopilot can be quite relaxing. But it also goes wrong on a regular basis. Our brain "automates" our thinking, doing and feeling - and with it negative patterns. For example:

  • Negative thoughts about oneself that keep coming up.
  • Unwanted habits like nail biting
  • Sitting on social media too often
  • Experiencing certain negative feelings over and over again

The solution? A conscious reflection on your own autopilot. What reaction patterns do you recognize in yourself that are bothering you? You can break this down into:

  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • Behavior
  • Attention

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

Brain functions: The autopilot

More guidance on how to decrease your pain