Every day we all feel the pace of life picking up and moving faster and faster; this has become the new normal. Peace lies in your ability to accept it rather than struggle with it, sometimes easier said than done. The truth is we all experience less desirable/unfavorable situations throughout the days or weeks. Some of these situations are out of your control while some of them are part of your own patterns, and that pattern can be changed. Now isn’t that good news?
When unfavorable situations, actions and emotional conflicts happen again and again in your life—same scene, different characters—there’s a good chance you are in the presence of a negative “pattern.”
Some examples: picking the wrong lovers/partners, conflict with co-workers, being chronically debt ridden, people pleasing, over-giving and a recurring lack of self-care.
At best, these negative patterns cause frustration. At worst, they cause undue suffering, uphill struggle, and sometimes, even disease.
The good news is that you have the power to change these negative patterns. Below are some ways to begin to disrupt them so that you can start laying down new, more positive patterns.
The act of noticing begins the shift away from damaging thoughts or behaviors, no matter how entrenched a pattern seems. Put simply, you can’t change what you’re not aware of.
One way to become aware is to just sit with your thoughts and watch for the patterns. The goal here is to notice, that’s all.
In this step, focus your awareness on just the facts and feelings of the patterns. Don’t let your mind wander into the analysis of “why” you have them right now, for you will likely try to justify and defend the pattern. You may begin to blame others for this pattern and that will only keep you entrenched in the behavior. You can analyze later (see below); for now, just notice.
Also, ask people you trust to help you see the patterns. (Only talk to your nearest and dearest who will support you without adding any negativity.) Our blind spots are called “blind” for a reason; we just don’t see them. But they’ll be clear as day to others.
Discover the hidden payoff.
Becoming aware of your negative patterns, you see evidence they are disserving, perhaps even damaging, you. For example, if your pattern of conflict with co-workers has made you change jobs a number of times, your resume now reflects that pattern too.
The key to interrupting negative patterns is to understand this: we generally don’t keep repeating behaviors unless, on some level, we get something good out of them.
These hidden reasons are known as “payoffs,” and they either help you get more of something you want or avoid something you don’t want. Even a negative payoff is a payoff.
In the example above, the person in constant conflict with co-workers could be using the conflict to cover up insecurity with his/her work quality. The conflict, in effect, distracts from scrutiny.
Or, the conflict could stem from uncensored outspokenness. The person may have an oppressive situation at home, and being excessively outspoken at work may allow him/her to feel powerful and self-expressed in at least one arena of life.
Many years ago I held a management position within a Boutique Hotel Group. I often worked 60 hours a week, leaving little energy for my intimate relationship or time to do what made me happy. Ultimately, the relationship ended and all I was left with was work. A few years later that I realized I was overly identified by what I “did” rather than who I was and what my true values were. As soon as the awareness was clear the changes were easy to make and I left that position shortly after. That one decision set me on a path where I now experience balance in work and every area of my life.
Look for (and create) positive patterns.
One of the best ways to disrupt the negative patterns that may be wreaking havoc with your life is to also study the positive patterns in your life. For these can be “grafted” onto your negative patterns with great success. Choose an area of your life that is working well to analyze why that is so. Then, apply the same level of focus to any area that is not thriving to the same degree.
For example, you can utilize the discipline you’ve always had around working out regularly to stop using credit to finance your lifestyle.
When you look at your negative patterns as a gift rather than a curse, you can soften your resistance to looking at them. Bringing humor to a situation can begin to dissolve layers of patterning. Clients often exclaim, “I can’t believe I am dealing with this again after all these years”.
We then laugh and remember change comes in small and big chunks as and when you are ready.
Begin with a pattern that is less charged/intimidating if you like … then, just begin!
Love and Blessings,