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.”
At best, these negative patterns cause frustration. At worst, they cause chronic stress and undue suffering.
The good news is: 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.
No matter how entrenched a pattern seems, the act of noticing begins the shift away from damaging thoughts or behaviors. Put simply, you can’t change what you’re not aware of.
One way to become aware is to 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 the facts and feelings of the patterns. Don’t let your mind wander into the analysis of “why” you have them right now, for it will likely try to justify and defend the pattern. You can analyze later (see below); for now, just notice.
Also, ask people you trust to help you see the patterns. 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.
Once aware of your negative patterns, you will see evidence they are disserving, even damaging. For example, your pattern of people pleasing has caused you to experience burnout and resentment leading to high-stress and health issues.
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 avoidsomething you don’t want.
In the example above, the person who is always pleasing others could be using this behavior as a way to avoid making him/herself a priority. People pleasing allows a person to put their life on hold– self-care, healthy habits, relationship or work conflicts — while they help others. It’s a form of distraction and avoidance.
Or the people-pleaser could be saying yes to others for external validation. Doing things for others leads to acceptance and approval.
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.
For example, you can utilize your discipline of exercising regularly to stop using credit cards to finance your lifestyle.
Consider your negative patterns as the pipes to your backyard pond that are old and clogged with mineral build-up. Laying new pipes (positive patterns) could be the easiest, quickest and most effective solution.
To your success,
Elite Coach ⋅ Speaker ⋅ Author
PS. If your negative patterns are leading to stress, burnout and exhaustion, it’s time to schedule a 30-minute Strategy Call. During this time, I’ll share strategies to eliminate negative patterns, decrease stress and increase your time and energy to do more of what you love. Click here to schedule your 30-minute Strategy Session.