In A Cycle Of Negative Patterns? – Learn 3 steps to freedom!
February kicks off with Groundhog Day on February 2. As a kid I remember waiting with fingers crossed to see if Punxsutawney Phil was/was not going to see his shadow meaning 6 more weeks of winter or an early spring. I guess it never occurred to me that a rodent seeing his shadow in Pennsylvania had absolutely nothing to do with the weather in my neck of the woods (or elsewhere). Nevertheless, out of curiosity even though being older and wiser I admit I still check in to see if “ole Phil” sees his shadow or not. Of course always hoping that he doesn’t. Old habits die hard I guess!
But speaking of Groundhog Day, there’s an old movie starring Bill Murray by the same name. Murray plays Phil Conners, a snarky weatherman who’s forced to cover the story of the weather-forecasting rat, (his words) in the small town of Punxsutawney, PA. Long story short, Connors relives the same day over and over again driving him nuts until finally one day he wakes up to find that finally it’s February 3 allowing him to go on with his life. There are many speculations as to what the moral of the story was but suffice it to say that he kept repeating the same mistakes over and over again until one day he finally got it right.
Have you ever been held captive by your own Groundhog Day? You know, where it seems that you are caught in a continual loop of behavior that has you asking, “Why me?” or saying, “Not again!”. In the beginning you saw the patterns as chance or bad luck but as time went on you had to question if there was something you were doing to attract those situations.
EXAMPLES OF COMMON PATTERNS
Look below at some the most common recurring negative behaviors and see if any of them look familiar.
- Habitually being late for appointments
- Being absent-minded
- Emotional eating, gaining weight, dieting, then gaining it back
- Attracting the same (wrong) type of people in your life resulting in destructive relationships
- Constant issues with friends, family members, authorities
- Being financially irresponsible
- Sleeping late
- Not exercising even though you had planned to
- Getting into arguments or easily losing your cool
- Procrastination, disorganization, inability to complete projects, or not meeting deadlines.
- Staying too late at work; getting burnt out
- Addictions, recoveries, and relapses
- Any unwanted situation that repeats itself
BE AWARE OF YOUR PATTERNS
You can’t change something if you’re not cognizant of the fact that it’s happening.
1. Identify your patterns
The first step to breaking a pattern is to recognize you’re in one. Look for something you keep doing over and over again even though you have vowed not to do it anymore. For example, hitting the snooze button too many times (causing you to be late), arguing with co-workers (relational issues), impulse spending (being financially irresponsible). And the list could go on and on.
Often the behavior is followed by complaining with the same intensity as if it was the first time it ever happened. Although you know it’s been going on for years. You make statements such as, “Why does this always happen to me?”, “I can’t believe I did that again!”, or “People always treat me this way!”. As soon as you hear yourself say such phrases, pause and check yourself. You are probably in a cycle. You don’t have to keep going down that road though. When you realize what’s going on make a conscious decision to break it.
2. Getting to the root of the pattern
Just like an iceberg, so much of who we are and why we do what we do is hidden below the surface so to speak. Getting to the root of the pattern will help explain the “why” you keep doing it. So when you find yourself repeating an unwanted pattern ask yourself the following questions:
- What makes you feel like doing it?
- Where are you when you feel like doing it?
- When do you do it?
- Who makes you feel like doing it?
You will find the root cause isn’t external but stems from your thoughts, emotions, personality, choices, beliefs, or even your past. Sometimes, decisions might have been made early in life as a way of coping or surviving an existing situation. Those decisions oftentimes can be carried on into adulthood even though the difficult circumstance are no longer present. Then, on an unconscious level they stand in the way of achieving what you desire in life.
Understanding the reasons and emotions behind your behavior will help you focus on how to work through the issues. Because all the behaviors are yours alone you hold the key and the power to change them.
3. Breaking the pattern
Here’s where the work really begins as you take some action steps. Instead of repeating the pattern as if on autopilot respond more thoughtfully. Choose to respond differently. In other words, do in that moment something different from what you have always done in the past. Yes, it will feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable at first but be encouraged, it will lead to more favorable outcomes.
Be patient with yourself as you work through this process. Your patterns were not developed overnight. Therefore, it is unrealistic to think you will overcome the unwanted patterns overnight. Just like any other personal development technique, the more you do it, the easier it will become. There’s liberation ahead!
As for me? Now that I’ve identified my pattern of relying on Punxsutawney Phil “pfft!” to bring me an early spring I’m going to break that pattern this year. Oh Yeah! From now on I will be celebrating “Hoodie-Hoo Day” on February 20. What is Hoodie-Hoo day you ask? Well, let me tell you. Hoodie-Hoo Day is a holiday that was created to chase away winter and make way for spring. You go outside at high noon, wave your hands over your head and yell “Hoodie-Hoo!” And nope, I didn’t just make that up. It’s a real holiday! Look it up. Hey, what do I have to lose right?
Well, we all have patterns in our life don’t we? And yes, some of them are just a silly nuisance, but others can be negative behaviors causing serious issues. If you are at the place where you want to stop the negative patterns and replace them with positive ones I hope you can use the steps above to make some much needed changes in your life. However, if it becomes too much of a struggle to change on your own I encourage you to call me, Kris at 616-516-1570 or schedule an appointment online. While it’s often good to solve problems on our own, sometimes we all can use a little help. Rest assured, there’s nothing wrong with getting help when you need it. I look forward to your call!