Designing Your Life
A Guide to Help You Consciously Create Your Future
by Tamara Dodgson
Identifying & Breaking Old Patterns
"We become what we repeatedly do."
- Sean Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
One of the most efficient and effective ways of identifying and breaking old patterns is to begin to understand more about ourselves, our thoughts and our beliefs. We have to develop a curiosity about ourselves and be willing to question everything about why we do the things we do and how our beliefs and our thought patterns can create havoc for us if we are not aware of how they operate in our lives.
As human beings, we tend to be creatures of habit, and those habits are usually formed by a pattern of behaviour which is dictated by our thoughts and our beliefs. As we move about in the world and develop ways of behaving that seem to ensure that our needs get met, we create for ourselves a system of actions and reactions that over time become a habitual way of doing things. Our beliefs will determine our thoughts, and our thoughts will determine our behaviour.
Habitual patterns are most often developed to create a sense of comfort and ease in our lives. In other words, we do what works for us. Regardless of whether a behavioural pattern has a positive or negative impact on us in the long term, as long as it satisfies our short term needs, then it will become a habit. The more these habits are practised, the more attached to them we become.
Some patterns can be traced so far back that they may have even originated from our ancestors. If you think about it, you may be able to easily identify some of the patterns of behaviour that you have inherited from your parents. Because we learn what we live, there are some patterns that we will easily pick up from our childhoods. There are the more obvious and more destructive patterns, such as alcoholism, abuse, addiction, corruption and the like. But there are also plenty of patterns that are not so obvious that can have a detrimental impact on us if they are not corrected.
For instance, if a child grows up in an environment where there is financial difficulty or a lack of adequate funding for necessities, even if that child grows up to become successful and earn a good living, as an adult they may still have trouble trying to break free of the mindset of being poor. If an individual is brought up in an environment where one or both parents are insecure, untrusting and skeptical about people, and they believe that the world is cruel and unjust, then it is very likely that the individual will inherit these beliefs as well. By simply being in that environment on a regular basis and exposed to those attitudes and opinions, we can unknowingly foster those beliefs and carry them into the next generation.
Because of the amount of impact that these patterns can have on our lives, it is vital for us to become aware of the patterns that we have developed, identify and acknowledge those patterns and how they are affecting us, and learn to find new ways of being that will promote more open-mindedness and allow us to access more joy out of life in the future. We cannot correct something when we are not aware that it is flawed, so acknowledgement has to be the first step.
Look at the parts of your life that are not where you want them to be. How would you like for it to be different? In what ways are your behavioural patterns contributing to your situation? Are those patterns serving you in the short term in some way? Can you identify where these patterns began, or do they go back as far as you can remember? Can you relate them to someone who is in your circle of influence, meaning your parents, your grandparents, your aunts or uncles or another caretaker who helped to raise you? By becoming aware of where these patterns originate from, we can begin to understand how much we can be influenced by those around us, and begin to consider if those perceptions are worth keeping.
If there is a behavioural pattern you have that you do not wish to keep, understand that you do have the ability to change it. You do not have to carry negative or unhealthy attitudes with you into your future. You have the ability to choose for yourself what you wish to take with you as you go forward. Choose carefully, because it will determine the quality of your life in the future. Education is everything!
First, if you are going to be successful in your quest to rid yourself of negative patterns, you must first learn to take 100% responsibility for everything in your life. You must also gather the courage to become completely and brutally honest with yourself about everything. Getting to the bottom of our habitual patterns can be messy, as well as uncomfortable, difficult and sometimes perhaps even painful. But that's why internal work is the most rewarding and most beneficial work you can do. It puts you in touch with the most important person in your life - and that person is you.
Second, you must understand that our thoughts and beliefs are some of the most powerful things that we have. Your thoughts literally create your world. If your thoughts and beliefs are mostly negative, then more than likely they will be limiting to you in some way, and limiting beliefs are what cause us to create negative patterns. For example, if you believe that you are not capable of achieving good grades, then you will convince yourself that nothing you do is going to make a difference, and that belief will continually cause you to refrain from taking whatever action you could take to improve them. You will forever be trapped by the limiting belief that you are not capable, when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. There could be a million different methods you could employ to help you increase your grades, but it is easier to come to the conclusion that you are not capable, because it means that you don't have to do anything to fix it. This is why learning to take 100% responsibility for your life and everything in it is so important. It empowers you to make a change. If you refuse to take responsibility and chalk it up to "that's just the way it is", then you dis-empower yourself and you become a helpless victim.
Third, you have to find a way to replace your old beliefs and thought patterns with new ones. Once you have identified and broken down a particular set of limiting beliefs, then you can go about rebuilding them how you want. You can learn to look with a new perspective at things with a more open mind, and realize that there are other ways of seeing people and circumstances. You can begin to look for the opportunity to improve your world and be grateful that those opportunities exist. You can free yourself from the ideas that were thrust upon you, and you can choose how you want to see, feel and experience things in the future.
By losing the beliefs that are not serving you and changing the thoughts that you have about certain things, you can begin to create a new reality for yourself and your future. You can set an example for others by showing them that they are limiting themselves by holding on to limiting beliefs, and in doing so you help to create more compassion and flexibility in others. Old patterns of behaviour will be broken, and a new and better way will be created for generations to come. That's how much power you have!
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