Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Feed Your Soul: Interrupting Autopilot

By Amy Phillips-Gary

I started out the week yesterday by asking a lot of questions. In the midst of these death-oriented holidays (many of which celebrate the lives of loved ones whom have passed), how truly alive do you tend to be?

Connecting in with your soul is absolutely required in order to keep it fed and nurtured. And nourishing your soul is key to living the vibrant and engaged kind of life you might be craving and not seeming to be able to bring about.

One huge stumbling block to this first step of connecting in with your soul is the tendency that many of us have to move through our lives in a sort of autopilot. It's pretty clear that when you are in autopilot, you are separate and disconnected from your soul.*

Sometimes being in autopilot looks and feels like a dulled or even deadened state. The person is merely going through the motions of life. There is no apparent zest or excitement about the experiences that this person is having. Or, if this type of engagement with life does occur, it is rare.

Other times, checking out involves falling back into old, limiting habits. The person, usually without being conscious of it, reverts back to behaviors and reactions that were more active in his or her past. These are ways of being that do not support the kind of life the person is trying to create now.

For example, I tend to get controlling when I am in autopilot mode. There is usually some trigger and, before I know it, I am harping on my kids and partner about just about everything and anything. It's not pretty and it's not fun for any of us involved.

In either case, we can become so deeply checked out that we don't even recognize that we are in autopilot mode to begin with!

The challenge is to begin to recognize when you are in autopilot and then interrupt that pattern. The ultimate goal here is to begin to re-connect with your soul so that you can listen to what you need to thrive.

Become practiced at observing yourself. Your positive growth will not be supported if you are observing yourself with a hyper-critical eye, however. Instead, try stopping what you are doing for a few moments 3 or more times a day and just notice.

--What are you feeling?

--What are the needs you have?

--What thoughts are active within you?

If it is difficult for you to tap into this information, you might possibly have fallen into autopilot mode. If so, try to better understand the trigger that might have set you down this checked out path. What's behind your current mood or state?

Interrogate Your “Shoulds”

The “shoulds” are often operating behind the scenes when I fall into autopilot. Unfortunately, I still hold many beliefs about how a “good mother/wife/daughter/woman/human being” should be. When something comes up in my life to trigger those shoulds, I often clamp down, disengage and become controlling.

Old habits like this can be stopped in their tracks when the shoulds (or other beliefs) that drive them are questioned. During one of those 3 or more times a day when you are observing yourself and checking in, pay particular attention to any shoulds that are rearing their heads.

When you encounter a should, ask yourself what would happen if you don't follow through on what you think you-- or another person-- should do, say, or be. Is there room for different and additional ways of being in this situation?

Probably so.

Just about every time I interrogate a should, I find that there are far more possibilities than I initially could perceive.

And this is the ah-ha moment that almost always allows me to loosen up and re-engage with myself and my soul. (Not to mention the fact that I can usually ease up on those around me as well!)

The triggers that seem to send you into autopilot mode could be very different than mine. I highly recommend incorporating into your day these observation moments. When you discover that you have checked out, dig deeper and find out what you need.

*The concept of “Soul” is being used here in an expansive and two-fold manner. In one sense, it is the higher power-- Source, God, Goddess, Allah, Yahweh, Great Spirit or other name that resonates for you. Additionally, it is the essence, the animating principle that is you. These can be inter-linked or distinct depending on your belief system.

Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month. Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

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