My brain has an autopilot setting. I think most people’s brains do.

It’s what lets us get ready in the morning when we’re half-asleep, without putting our clothes on backwards or using our toothbrushes on our hair (usually). It’s what takes us along the same route to work every morning, even when we’re paying more attention to the radio than to the road. There’s probably a technical term for this, and I might even have been taught it in a psychology class once, but I can’t remember, so I’m calling it “autopilot”.

I depend on my autopilot a lot. My conscious mind can be pretty awesome, but it can also be pretty slow to react when something unexpected happens, and pretty easily distracted. I depend on my autopilot not just once in a while when I’m very tired, but every day. To keep from getting lost. To turn off the lights. To turn off the stove. To bring my keys with me (and to lock the door). To cook dinner. To reply when people call my name. To do my job. Every day.

Because I depend on it so much, it fails me pretty often, too. Not by disappearing entirely, but by putting me on the wrong pre-planned track. I drive to the wrong place. I get out ingredients for a different meal than I intended to make. I reply to the person trying to get my attention, but get their name wrong, or use a greeting that doesn’t make sense.
So, I depend on my autopilot all the time, but I don’t really trust it.

This means I also don’t completely trust my memory of what I’ve done. If I’m not paying close attention to what I’m doing, I can easily do something wrong on autopilot and not realize what I’ve done.

I depend on my autopilot constantly, and I am constantly double-checking and second-guessing it. I love all the things it lets me do, and I hate that it causes me so much stress. I love being careful and capable and precise, and I hate that I can’t trust myself.


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