2019, December 05

Mental Wellness Challenge – Autopilot and Intention

Last weeks challenges were:

  1. Perform one random act of kindness each day for the next 7 days.
  2. Take some time to be kind to yourself. Spoil yourself a little.
  3. Phone a friend or family member that you haven’t spoken with in a while.

Were you successful in the challenge?  How did it feel to perform an act of kindness for someone?  Did they know it was you?  Did it matter if they did or didn’t?   I hope you spoiled yourself a little – I know I sometimes feel like I need to reward myself once in a while…. How about that call to a friend?  Mine was great!  I was able to contact a buddy that I haven’t spoken with in a LONG time and it was good to reconnect – it was good to let him know that he still matters in my life and to be reminded that I’m still an important person in his life.

This week I want to share a little about how I have to be careful with my autopilot setting.

What do I mean by autopilot?  I mean that “mode” that I can get into where I’m not paying attention to my wellness model (Values, Awareness/Vigilance, Purpose, Commitment, Connections, Actions, Supports and Understanding/Acceptance) and I end up going through the pattern of my everyday routine.  Now, don’t get me wrong, my ADHD brain and mind LOVE LOVE LOVE routines, patterns… Not a big fan of too much change…  Within my daily pattern I still need to be mindful of INTENTION, of PURPOSE.  Autopilot for me is going through the actions of my life without being aware of the reasons for why I am doing the things I am doing.

I understand that this must sound a little odd to some.  You see, for me to continue on my journey to wellness, I must be mindful of where I put my feet, where my journey is taking me.  If I don’t pay attention to where I am, what I am doing, and why I am doing it, I can end up taking a hike into my dark forest (depression) far too easily.

There have been times in my life, when I have been in a major depression, where I was so lost, so broken, so… unaware… that I had no idea, whatsoever, what I wanted, or even who I was.  This can happen to me when I am living on autopilot and not really participating in my life.  I suppose I could say that I was “along for the ride” and I wasn’t in control of where my life was headed.  This is a easy place for me to get to… I don’t know… maybe it’s an easy place for anyone to get to…

In my “Out of the darkness” presentations I use an analogy where I am lost in a place that is dark, ‘sulfery’, nasty, with sharp jagged stones and lots of pitfalls and slippery slopes…  I ask people to think of a place like the Orcs keep in the Lord of the Rings…  This is a metaphor for what its like for me to be in a major depression… To get out of this nasty place I use a light that I can see (hope) that helps set my general direction out of the depression, but the actual journey out of that place is one where I must take great care to step only in safe places, to drink only clean water, to protect myself from the sharp stones, to be mindful of the reason for every action, every step, every thought – literally every move I make… to ask why would I go this way instead of that way, is there a safer way to go – even if it might take me further down into the darkness for a while, all while trying to maintain my focus on rising up from that dark place…

You see – on my way into my depression(s), there have been clues…  I don’t yet know all of the clues, but I have learned enough about the journey into depression to be aware of enough of the clues to be able to recognize that I might be on my way back into my dark forest and eventually into that dark craggy place.

Getting depressed doesn’t happen overnight for me.  I don’t wake up in the morning on a given day and BAM – I’m depressed.  That journey into depression for me is insidious.  It seems like the things that happen every day, every hour, every moment of my life…

If I’m cruising on autopilot – I miss those clues.  If I let myself get so busy or so focused (ADHD BRAIN AT WORK HERE) that I don’t pay attention to the world around me – to my connections with that world – I lose sight of those really subtle little clues…

Sometimes I get really tired of “being on purpose” all the time.  Its no fun… it’s a drag… it’s a great deal of work.  I get lazy with being on my model… and it doesn’t take long and I start seeing the telltale signs of the beginnings of getting lost show up in my path…  In the past – I’d just keep on doing what I needed to do to get the job done – to get through the expectations of my life I wouldn’t look after myself…

And that’s really the idea – the idea is to look after myself… and living on autopilot doesn’t help me with that task.

My values help to guide the decisions I make that colour that actions I take.  In being aware of the reasons that I do what it is that I am doing – being on purpose – I move through my journey in a way that supports my health.  I intentionally connect with people who support me, who love me, who genuinely care for me – so that I have someone to support me when I can’t do it on my own.  I understand and accept that this mode of active participation in my life is a necessity for me to be able to continue my journey to wellness.  I must remain committed to the work that must be done to be able to enjoy the fruits of that wellness.  If I’m not doing this – I’m on autopilot.  I’m letting life happen around me instead of taking responsibility for my role in it…

So – not unlike a pilot on an aircraft – I can let autopilot do some of the really really routine driving – I need to stay in cabin and pay attention to all the dials and buttons and indicators so that I take the yoke if there’s any hazards or potential hazards on radar…

I don’t have a map to where my journey is going to take me – so unlike that pilot – there’s no programmed flow for my life to take… after all – life is the journey – because the destination doesn’t prove to hold much appeal.

My challenge this week.

  1. Take some time and ponder – think – reflect on your journey. Are you running on autopilot?  Are you in charge?  Maybe make some notes on this reflection so that you can read them at a later time.
  2. Be 100% intentionally kind to someone you do not know. The crankier they are the stronger your intention will have to be…
  3. Tell someone in your life that you love, that love them. Look at them – right in the eyes and tell them that you love them.  Do it with intention, with purpose – because – YOU LOVE THEM

That’s it, I challenge you!