Automatic Pilot

06/25/2015 03:41 pm ET | Updated Jun 25, 2016


I'm sure you have wondered why you keep doing the same things over and over again, knowing full well that what you are doing just does not work, but you just keep doing it anyway. Right?

"Why?" you ask.

Well, one answer to this question is simply, "You are on automatic pilot." Automatic pilot? What do you mean? Who set it?

I'd like to tell you a little story that will help to explain. Let's say you live in California and you want to sail a ship to Hawaii. You know where you are going. You know the direction you need to go in order to get there. So you begin to build a ship. As you build your ship, you have a special little device that you can set, and it will take the ship wherever you want it to go. Knowing Hawaii is southwest from where you are, you set your special device, your automatic pilot, for southwest. Everything is set. You finish building your boat, and everything is in working order. You start on your trip to Hawaii. You are sailing along, enjoying the sun. Your automatic pilot is working like a charm, and you are well on your way. You close your eyes. Visions of Hawaii dance in your mind. At some point you open your eyes and discover that your ship is heading straight for an island. With terror in your heart, you grab the helm and point the ship away from the island. Feeling comfortable again, you settle back and close your eyes. Now, while you are off dreaming, your automatic pilot comes back into control and redirects the ship back to the southwest, straight for the island. A seagull cries out. You open your eyes only to discover that you are heading on a collision course with the island. Again, you grab the helm and point the ship away from the island. Whew!

Our automatic pilot will always move us in the direction that it has been set. So, who set our automatic pilot? It was set years ago by our parents, our primary caregivers, our siblings, our teachers, our friends, and even ourselves. Sometimes it was set by verbal commands. More often, it was set by what was not said, by nonverbal actions. It was also set by the experiences we have had. Once the automatic pilot is set, it remains set until we consciously go back and change it. One thing that is very interesting about the automatic pilot is that when it is set, we are making the best decisions we can at that moment based on all the information we have to work with. As children, we discovered what we needed to do in order to survive in our environment. We survived. We are still alive. However, what kept us alive in our families of origin probably will not be effective in the world we now find ourselves living in today. As adults, we do not want to carry on and live our lives based on the perceptions of an infant, a young child, or an adolescent.

As you probably are becoming aware, the automatic pilot is in that vast unconscious part of us. Most of us have not gone back inside and changed our automatic pilot. And if we have attempted to change it, we probably used methods we were taught. We can begin to use the five steps to change as a method of changing our automatic pilot. By focusing on positive affirmations and positive self-talk, we can begin to send the automatic pilot new orders and new perceptions from which our ship is to be steered.

What outdated messages are you still following? As a point of awareness, reflect on what beliefs about yourself you would like to let go of and what beliefs you would like to consciously program.

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