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Breaking Harmful Habits and Painful Patterns

How aware are you of your patterns? Specifically, patterns of behavior, thoughts, and emotions. Which of these patterns are still working for you and which are not?

We are creatures of habit. I know this because there are things I habitually do in my life without any thought, like wash my hands as soon as I walk in the door or put my right shoe on before my left.

Sometimes our patterns are healthy (like my washing hands example). Other times, our patterns hold us back or keep us STUCK. As a child, my pattern of biting my fingernails was keeping me STUCK with fingers that hurt and made me susceptible to more illness. Thank goodness I kicked that habit long before COVID!

This past week, I had a small victory with a pattern I’ve been trying to get out of for years. Why has it taken years to break this pattern? For lots of reasons.

First, it took a long time for me to see this was a pattern for me. I knew something didn’t feel right, but I wasn’t aware of the pattern. Through introspection and lots of journaling, I could finally see and understand the pattern.

Awareness could only get me so far. Unlike a faucet, you can’t just turn off a habit. There are so many forces that can keep us STUCK in a pattern.

There can be part of us that is attached emotionally the pattern. If you’ve ever driven in snow, you may have experienced getting a tire trapped in a snow rut. You’ll turn your wheel to the right, but your wheel will go with the snow rut to the left. This can be what it’s like when our emotions are STUCK in a pattern rut. For example, let’s say you know that engaging with someone on a specific topic habitually triggers you and/or them, and yet there’s that part of you that just can’t NOT go there. I know, that was a double negative!

Or maybe an inability to imagine doing it any other way keeps us STUCK. Or, perhaps there’s security in knowing what the end result of a pattern will be whether it’s good for us or not. Or there can be a fear of the unknown- if I DON’T do it the way I’ve always done it, what will happen?

Like I said, this week, I took a chance and did something differently. It took a lot of courage for me to explore this unknown territory. Fortunately, I’ve been developing more trust in myself to feel confident that whatever the outcome, I would know what to do to support myself as needed. The end result of doing something differently has been powerful, and I can’t wait to share more with you.

In this episode of Growing in Uncertainty, I work with the questions:

· How do we know we’ve outgrown a behavior/thought/emotional pattern?

· What can we do to get unSTUCK from these patterns that are no longer serving us?

· How can we measure our success in working on the patterns we intend to change?

Remember, it’s okay to be STUCK, but you don’t have to stay there.

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