Time to Go Off Autopilot

Vinitha Pastor's picture

Have you ever been driving home from work and missed your exit because you weren't paying attention? Ever been in the shower and can't remember if you put shampoo in your hair? Ever walk into a room to get something and then not remember what you went in there to get?

These are all examples of being on autopilot. This New York Times article, The Power of Concentration, talks about the concept of mindfulness, which is one of the foundations of DBT.

Mindfulness is the ability to focus more on the here-and-now, because we as human beings also tend to live in the past or in the future and pay little attention to what is going on now. We become distracted by worries about things that have happened and fears of things that could happen. If we can focus a little more on what is happening right now, it is less likely that we will miss those important things that might help us with our worry or fear.

We also live in a society of multitasking. How else would we be able to get anything done? We have so many demands on us in any given day that we hurry through them, not paying a whole lot of attention to what we are doing.

Try to practice being mindful for a few minutes a day. If you can't do a minute, take a few seconds. Sometimes that's all we can do and that's okay too. When you wake up in the morning, instead of jumping up to start your day, take a minute to feel your body laying on the bed and your head on the pillow. Be mindful of what thoughts you are having, instead of all the things that need to get done. Concentrate on how you are feeling, both physically and mentally. As you practice this and become more effective, you might find that you are able to focus on your day a little better and in turn, be more efficient in your ability to complete tasks.

NYTimes: The Power of Concentration

Happy New Year!

Vinitha Pastor, MA, LPC  Intensively Trained DBT Therapist