You're always fine

Life on autopilot

October 03, 2023 Even Health Season 1 Episode 9
You're always fine
Life on autopilot
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever felt like you're just coasting through life, disconnected and out of control? Well, we're here to tell you it's not just you - your brain is slipping into autopilot mode. This episode, hosted by Kristine and Lauren, explores the brain's two operating systems: the fast, automatic system one, and the slow, conscious system two. We dive into how the balance between these systems can impact our well-being and performance, especially in high-stakes fields like healthcare.
_____________________________________

Live group recommendation based on this episode:

Stress sucks!

Date: 10/11   Time: 1 pm est

Description: We are here for anyone looking for support, guidance, and understanding as we navigate the challenges of stress.

Register here

If you just found our podcast and missed the connecting live group, explore this month's live group schedule

*These live groups are exclusive to Cabana members. If you would like to learn how you can become a Cabana member, you can visit our website

Cabana content recommendations based on this episode:

This week’s source notes:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-adaptive-mind/201811/how-stop-living-life-autopilot

Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow



Cabana Pods offer healthcare professionals a therapeutic experience through immersive reality, focusing on emotional resilience. Research shows that immersive technologies tailored to one’s needs can have immediate positive changes in well-being, mood, stress relief and, mindfulness.
Learn more about Cabana pods at https://www.evenhealth.com/pods

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, or LinkedIn. Click here to check out Cabana.

Speaker 1:

Welcome back to You're Always Fine a space to show up for yourself and embrace the mess that lives underneath. Because, let's be real, it's exhausting always being fine. So grab your headphones and allow yourself to listen, laugh and even cry, because you are not alone and we aren't always fine, and that's okay, welcome back to.

Speaker 2:

You're Always Fine. I'm your host, christine, and I'm Lauren, and today we are taking off cruise control and heading into the land of autopilot, which, lauren, I didn't know was very prevalent to your industry. Are you ready?

Speaker 3:

I am, let's do it. So autopilot, it's the ability to do something automatically with little to no cognitive effort. Essentially, our brains have developed a subconscious system to take care of routine tasks, decisions and thoughts. However, like many protective systems, it can become maladaptive and harm our well-being, and I get it. Sometimes we need to place our brains in autopilot mode to get the job done or move quickly through a high-stakes situation.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely Especially. I feel like in the current world that we live in and I don't think the pandemic did anything for us like those repetitive routines. You know research shows that people operate on autopilot roughly 47% of their day, many without even knowing they're on it, which to me is a little terrifying. So I guess the real question is like, with everything, what's the balance? I know my morning routine like on autopilot works really well for me. It sets me up for the day. I don't even think about it, you know, kind of go right through. I also know that it can be super dangerous and can affect, like my overall peace and contentment. So what's the balance with that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think there's a really good quote that, or like a section from Professor Daniel Kahneman's book. It's called Thinking Fast and Slow and he talks about two systems that our brains use. So system one is it's automatic, it's fast and it's an unconscious way of thinking. That's our autopilot mode. This system is autonomous and efficient, but it can be deceiving too, because it's more prone to bias and repetitive errors. So I attribute that, like in my nursing career, like medication errors you know, especially in like automated machines, like I remember you know it's very easy, like when you go to this medication machine there's all these little compartments and you just assume, because you do it all the time, you're pulling Tylenol all the time for all of your patients. You know that's like a standard medication you give. So you're just going to assume that like, okay, I'm going to the Tylenol packet, like for the Tylenol box, but you're also relying on a human to fill those boxes and sometimes a different medication can slip in. So it's important to like look at those medications all the time, even if nine percent in time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah. And also I think what you just said, though really quick, it's like I do think there's like doctors near like the hospital, but like right, it feels a little bit like super, like you know, like no, like it's like almost like gives you guys super. I think it's really important to circle back to that whole thing of like a human sets up a machine so that you can do something efficiently, like that's a really good point Exactly.

Speaker 3:

I mean, we're human, after all, in any career field, you know, but especially with healthcare, you know, we just have to pay a little bit more attention because that's our industry, we're dealing with people's lives. So system one thinking is ideal for quick decisions with little info. System two is a slow conscious and it's effortful, it requires attention and energy and it's more reliable because it can filter the misjudgments of system one. So system two is kind of like your like. Think of it as like slowly pumping the brakes on an icy road. You know, the icy road is just like. It's so easy to just shoot down it. But if you pump the brakes in an efficient manner you can actually stop and think about what you're doing. But those that system is more geared if we're going to go with the car. You know analogy. It's more geared towards complex mental activities. And one mode is not better than the other. Rather, it's learning to use both in a more balanced way.

Speaker 2:

I really like the way that, like he put that, like with the two systems and then kind of clarifying that there one is not better than the other, because I know in my life I am not entirely sure I know when one is being activated or the other, or if I'm being on it like really thinking about it, I don't know how much I know it's happening or I have control of it. You know when you're we're going to really drive this car thing home, this episode guys, but when you're on cruise control, right, like, and you want to come off cruise control, I remember when the feature just came out and I panicked the first time. I felt like I I didn't know how to gain control back, and so I feel like that's very prevalent right here, that example of, like you know, you have to press the brake in order to get control back up, the gas kind of thing or whatever. I guys I don't even know which one it is without driving it's on autopilot, but I feel like, in order to have control of all this, you have to notice when you're shifting gears, otherwise we end up like that same jolt of panicking. You know, extreme emotion or situations happen, just like cruise control.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. You know, and I think you know when I think about autopilot, you know I think about. To me it means going through the motions, you know, in general, you know, just going through the motions and not really taking any kind of active participation or engagement in what you do. And I think this definitely can apply to a few key areas in our life. You know that really like are really just shape and mold how our day to day and how our years are spent. You know, work, relationships or even if it's just something self-contained.

Speaker 2:

Sometimes autopilot. What you just said, though, I think is so relevant Like ever, sometimes you wake up and you're like where did the year go, whatever? I think it's all these things you put on autopilot that make that sense of like how am I still in this situation?

Speaker 3:

Yes, yes, it's important to also remember that. You know, sometimes autopilot is the best we can give with where we're at.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know that kind of brings to mind I'm not sure this is an official term or anything, but I'm going to make you know, declare a subset of autopilot that I think we don't talk about. That really hits to that point, lauren, about like the best we can give at the time, emotional autopilot. You know, I think a lot of our childhood traumas and our work traumas and these things that we don't address cause this emotional autopilot, you know, and that I'm referring specifically to the patterns of responding based on like absolutes, like I never go out on Friday, you know another version appears in your like automatic responses. Like how many times you're when someone says are you okay? You're, you're, without even thinking about what the question was I'm fine, I'm good, you know you're always fine, kind of thing. Like that's an automated response. And you know, specifically just to something you have learned about, you know that kind of like being present potentially in the moment that like maybe you're like a need wasn't met. So I really think that you know those emotional autopilot kind of things are built based on rules we've like learned from the external world or rules we've established based on those internal narratives you know so much of. You know automatic negative self-talk, right? Oh yeah, it is on autopilot, you know. You know we go based on old things and we don't really take a moment to realize, or, you know, I guess, like consciously break those patterns of emotions, you know. So I feel like it's not just like outward action and that's what the emotional autopilot speaks to, I think. Yeah, I'm trying to think of some other examples Overcommitting oh, I'm a big overcommitter in terms of like I can do it all, I can do it all. Or you can't put your phone down automatically, checking it when you wake up there's some sort of emotional need there. Or dreading your day of head. Or saying yes more than you say no, without the thought of it. I don't know, you know, just ascribe. For me it feels like watching a movie of my life. So when I got sick, specifically, and I was jolted, like you know, further along I was in a better place and I was like couldn't really remember the last two years of my, like the two years of my life where I was getting diagnosed and it did. It felt like a cloudy movie and I was watching this girl go through it all when I was reflecting, like I had no emotional attachment to it and I think that speaks to what you were saying about like that was the best, that was my survival mechanism at the time.

Speaker 3:

Exactly exactly. And you know autopilot can be activated for a variety of reasons, which you've already mentioned. You know, things like stress, trauma conditions such as depression, anxiety or dissociative disorders, burnout, ignoring stress, change like major change, sometimes even small changes, being overwhelmed, and so many more. You know. But speaking to changes, you know, sometimes it's not even major things. You know, it's a collection of just minor things that over time just build up and it's very easy to look back and get to a point where, like how the hell did this even happen? How did I even get here? You know, and some people seek challenges and dynamics and if that's left unfulfilled, you know it can also be easy to slip into autopilot mode. I know, for me, in my nursing career, for the longest time I definitely was in autopilot mode and that was due to stress and burnout, trauma in the workplace and, yes, I'm talking about trauma inflicted on me from patients and from administrators.

Speaker 2:

I was going to say also, I feel like there's a God that's like trauma, specifically in healthcare. I think like we could have an entire episode of like the micro the macro and the mes traumas that happen. You know something as much as just doing your job in a patient dying. That's a trauma. You know what I mean All the way up to you know systemic, like you know traumas that happen, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, exactly, and I was constantly feeling this way. I was surviving rather than thriving. Working this way never really permitted me to question what was working for me. Instead of who or what I was working for, you know, I had to shift out of autopilot mode and kick myself into high gear to really propel myself towards maybe not even a career that I had even visualized yet, but to just get myself out of the rut. You know that I definitely was in. It was a. You know I love people, I love taking care of others, but I wasn't happy in the type of nursing that I was doing. And once I shifted that and once I got out of autopilot and really started dialing down a carrier, it was a идol nn and coming to it again. You know it's a way of telling and giving handbraking. Now I'm worried. You know about my advocacy and you know what I put out as a mentor, what I wanted to be doing. With the education that I paid for for myself and the experiences that I had along the way in healthcare, I started to formulate an idea of what type of environment I wanted to be working in and look at where I am now.

Speaker 2:

She's hosting a podcast, people? No, but I think that is that honest assessment that you have to have with yourself so that you can bring yourself to the present, so that you can truly evaluate what you want and where you want to be, and give the flexibility of, of course, life's going to take you wherever the heck it's going to take you. But having more control starts with that honest assessment with yourself and, honestly, that's scary. The hardest person to be honest with is yourself, which is why all this internal work, which is why you know, putting this effort in here, even just to be 1% better every single day, up with it, is such a the ROI on that is just so much you know, like every blind spot you uncover and truly understand and know and bring to your conscious. You are, like you know, setting up for that like contentment, and I believe that peace and contentment balance, like that's where the abundance is, and you know, unfortunately, it's not an easy road there.

Speaker 3:

No, it isn't. And I think also, just if I could just tack on one thing to something you said before, I respond to, that is is, you know, being honest with yourself and how difficult that is, like that is a very difficult journey to to start and then to further that to take action upon it, because it's part, it's a two part system, right, like it's being honest with yourself, but then it's like, well, what are you going to do about it? You know, now you have this.

Speaker 2:

But also not bullying yourself about like right, there's a gentle balance again. Like not bullying yourself with that information and like knowing that you know that any pauses you take are planned pauses, maybe, or like you know, as opposed to, like you know, kind of beating yourself up of like, yeah, great, so you're honest with yourself now, but sure, sure, as crap can't fix it right, you know like it's like again, just like that awful voice in your head.

Speaker 3:

Yes, and I agree totally that it's relative to one's experience and with where this person is at. You know, I would say to patients all the time, you know, especially if they were consulting me or relying on me to like, provide some kind of seat back with you know what, what should I do? I would get asked that question so often in my career because you know you're in such an intimate environment and it's those one-on-one situations and especially, sometimes too, with family members. You know, like, like, what should I do when you're at your most vulnerable? And it's like you've got this information.

Speaker 2:

Everyone wants a, everyone wants an answer. Who doesn't want a? If I told you that I could give you like abundance, balance, peace in a book and all you got to do is follow the step-by-step guide, you know, and not the Ikea type of guide, like a good step-by-step DIY guide or whatever. Like seriously, who wouldn't take that Like again, that's kind of that autopilot easy thing.

Speaker 3:

But I but this is the crux of that, though is I you know when, when patients, especially, would ask me you know what should I do, I would tell them you know you have your own personal threshold, and only you will know. You know when you reach your limit, and it's only you that can decide whether you are ready to make that change. No one can make it for you. I can offer you like an objective perspective, but it's going to be you.

Speaker 2:

You're also not going to hear exactly that perspective. You're going to hear either the defensive version of it or that you know it's the same reason. You can read a book in one period of in your life and then read it again and you're like, oh my God, it's almost as if it's a whole different book. So I love that. I think that's so accurate because it's a factor we don't plan for the individualization of it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and you know I get it. Autopilot is easy, it's safe and it's predictable and it serves its purpose in very applicable circumstances. But what's unfortunate, what has been the most unfortunate thing that I have seen in living a life on autopilot is taking care of patients near the end of their lives or when they're crying. You know it's hearing them. It's hearing the regret that they didn't take more chances, that they didn't choose themselves more often or that they didn't explore the possibilities, and it's heartbreaking because at that point it's too late.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, two things I want to kind of like I want to tack on to first is completely resonate with the whole when patients they come by. I find that a lot of time was with my clients. When they come to me, you know they want the answer and, honestly, like I want to give them the answer. I wish I could give them the answer, you know, but part of the problem is that you know again, like your life, everything you took to get to this exact moment, build that threshold and things for you, and so I I wish I could give them just like the answer. Or, you know, sometimes I do have the answer right, but, like you said, they're not, they're not in a space where they can hear that answer and it and it. You really do see it. I think that's the cool thing about being a therapist is I love the sessions. Then you know they're not every session, I will definitely say that. But where it slaps all of a sudden you can like almost see something inside of them shift, where it's like they every, they'll, it will, they will never be the same. Essentially, you know, and I'm sure you've experienced those moments, lauren, where it's like something you have been struggling with for like years or whatever. All of a sudden the answer is so simple or it's like it no longer bothers you because you've been able to like click it into play. You know, like it all just kind of like clicks into place and I would say like definitely the most rewarding like part part of it is when you can watch someone else do that, but I Wish I could give that to people more often. But unfortunately it comes from Taking a lot like toggling a lot of these autopilots like off when you were talking. You know, my next thing I want to talk on to is that end-of-life thing, Because sometimes I feel like it can almost happen even more than end-of-life. I mean, sometimes it's like I think big birthdays right, like my wife's turning 40 this year and she hasn't run a marathon yet and so she really wants to do that and so, mind you, like she didn't think of it exactly like this, but I know how she went all of her 30s like because we met when she like right around 30 and we were running half Marathons, and so I know exactly the 10-year gap that like has made it so that she hasn't run one yet and I think it was big miles on birthdays do point out those same type of like, oh, my god, I'm gonna be 40, and like I don't have kids. Or my god, I'm gonna be 40. I'm good, you know, and like, is it that like I turn for? It's not about the age, right, like it's about, you know, not knowing where that time went. And I will say I think that's something about like being a child. I feel like kind of, maybe, depending on your child, that you know, but up until 18, you know, I feel like in Britain, you become like quote-unquote, an adult. You know, I think that she'll, like kids in general are better and being like very present in the moment. You know, it's just, I think, before like life slaps you down to be like so much in that adulting autopilot. If you, I don't know, but I I just feel like it. It unfortunately happens more often and that's one of my personal biggest fears is that like I don't want, I Didn't like the feeling when I got sick and I'm actively truly trying to make sure I don't repeat that is looking back and saying like you know what, what was the like like watching him that movie? Like that was a very scary thing. Like to like literally be like how did I get home, like you know what I mean, like how did I not kill myself or somebody, like I don't remember, like the physical, like 45 minute drive, like that. I didn't like that. And so, you know, while I wish I could toggle off the cruise control or press the brake whatever metaphor we're gonna use Also very aware that it's not something that happens like that, and so I don't know, I don't got nothing on this one, lauren, but like, with small steps, you know, would you take towards like balance in terms of like automacity, yeah, so you know, again, using the car analogy and from from this article that that I read it.

Speaker 3:

So starting the car, you know thinking about starting the car, so first off, you know Noticing how you drive. You know bring attention to or increase awareness in your behavior. You know it starts with you. Are you being intentional in your so tired of being in charge?

Speaker 2:

of my own life. Let me tell you.

Speaker 3:

I know, I know, I know, but we're the only ones I know. So that's the first thing, is just that, mindfulness and bringing attention to your behavior and your intentions, or Whack thereof, you know. The second thing is okay, so what is your destination? Where am I going on this road trip, you know? And that starts with finding a purpose, and that's again all of some of these can be broken out and should be in their own separate. You know, uh, like work, you know it's not all just one thing that's going to just go in a linear path, like, but these are just some go for it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, what? So I just want to ask you a question, because I was taking this very literally, but I actually think that you know there's like something you can do, like literally, like thinking about what the steps you're saying, but you're also, like you know, a bit of a like a bigger metaway, like you're also talking about different, like if I'm going to take a job, or you when you took this opportunity with like as a podcast, so it's like what's the purpose of it? What did you want to do? Is that what you're kind of saying? Just so I'm clear on the yeah, just I mean or just like.

Speaker 3:

I think more in terms of like finding a purpose, like in in general, like a life's purpose, or attaching bigger goal purpose to your destination, like where you want to go, you know, with that car analogy, you know the quote that came up was choose something worth dying for and live for it.

Speaker 2:

You know, love that, yeah that's.

Speaker 3:

that's a powerful motivator you know something that you're passionate about. What are your passions, you know, and how can you align yourself in doing something along those lines so that it can help you find your purpose or at least get on that path. You know. Another thing that you can do to get out of autopilot is okay again, car analogy. Head to the lookbook and you can find your own path. What you can do to get out of autopilot is okay again car analogy. Head to the lookout point. And this isn't the make out point that all the teenagers are talking to no.

Speaker 2:

I'm talking about I mean sure if that's where you are in the present moment. I just want to you know, make sure we're empowered to the people.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, exactly, okay, yeah, definitely, just go to a lookout point. But, but come up from that steamy session and pay attention to the view in front of you, but also perhaps reflect on what was in the rear view mirror, you know. So are you enjoying the present? You know, that's the view in front of you. How can you change the outlook so that it can get you to that picturesque moment? And creating that, that lookout point that is ideal for you and your goals, to get you to where you want to go, you know? And then one of the other things is change it up. You know, go on a road trip to a new destination. Challenging ourselves opens us up to discovery and growth, you know, and it's, it's one of those things where it's like I've heard that quote it's primarily used in, like the fitness world and it's, instead of one day, day one, you know. So like start small and try something new and an attempt to get out of your comfort zone. So Friday nights like date night. You know, I know a lot of couples, you know, struggle with date night because it's like, especially if you've been in a relationship for a long time, it's like, well, we just go to like shaky's pizza every Friday, and fine if that's no, I agree with this, and you know what.

Speaker 2:

I know this is an off topic, but I think it actually could help some people. I feel that because date night was like we have a really good time, but we're not going to be doing it every day. So we're going to be doing it every every other Thursday, right, and so two Thursdays a month I'd be responsible for it and like, don't get me wrong, like there are always a lot of fun, but like the thought process, really, it was almost just like a planning everything else for our months, so to speak. And so now, on Wednesdays, we do happy hour and in our own kitchen we get, you know, our own drinks, and essentially it's like what the hell is the time she's done with her commute or by the time I come upstairs, where, how's your day? Good, you know, but there's so much happens in between that good and that automatic response. You know of that relationship, and so that was our way of like for that. You know hour, 90 minutes, like those Wednesday things. It's like come to your, come to the kitchen, bring the beverage of your choice and you know, like, tell me like what's been up since last Wednesday, and I feel like that's. You know, like I said a little bit of a tangent, but I felt relevant to you know kind of more of a conscious way of because it's great, like, but we were going to do something fun when, something we wanted to, anyway, you know what I mean. Like we didn't need the date night for it, I really just wanted to connect with her. Yeah, yeah, makes sense. So, lauren, can you quickly just give me the rundown of those like four things to keep in mind when I'm working on this?

Speaker 3:

Yes, so I think it's helpful just to again use the car analogy. I love analogies, I think oh, me too Most people do. And it'll help you kind of link this to really drive it. Drive it home.

Speaker 2:

I'm trying so hard to not love it.

Speaker 3:

I know right. So using the car analogy, so like starting the car right, noticing how you drive, so just bring attention or awareness to your behaviors. The second one is what it questioning like what is your destination? You know fight and finding your purpose. The third one is heading to a lookout point. You know paying attention to the view in front of you and how that ties into like your goals and what you want for. You know the year ahead or the time ahead. And the last one is getting on a road trip to a new destination. You know challenging yourself with something different and starting small.

Speaker 2:

I really, really love this and the analogy. And you know what? I guess? Today is day one. Until next time, mind your health. Seriously, you're fine. You're fine because you have the power to access your place of peace anytime you need it. However, if you get stuck, we're right at the palm of your hand to help. Check out our show notes for this week's source list, recommended content and cabana live group schedule. We'll catch you next week for a brand new episode of You're Always Fine.

Finding Balance
Finding Purpose, Breaking Free From Autopilot
Finding Purpose and Breaking Autopilot