It’s the patterns in our lives that end up making or breaking us. It’s always wanting to hit the bar on a Friday night when the one you want isn’t acting right. It’s always waiting until the last-minute to submit important forms when you’ve had weeks to do it. It’s staying up past midnight because you are a “night owl” even though you need to be up the next morning at the crack of dawn. It’s always resorting to “cutting off” a friend when you’re not meeting eye-to-eye but knowing deep down the two of you will be cool in two weeks or so. It’s these patterns that shift our lives in dramatic directions. But if you look close enough, our behavior can be rather predictable. For instance, I’m currently trying to incorporate different things into my life. If you didn’t catch my 25 things before 25, go check it out. So within my regular routine I’m trying to shake things up a bit. So what happens, the first couple of days are good, momentum is flowing, optimism and positivity is at an all-time high. After about a week I’m dealing with a lack of sleep, family situations come up and my regular routine chumps whatever newness I try to put in place. Even though this is not what I want, my mind and body is telling me this is what I need.
Subconsciously, we will follow the pattern of least resistance in any given situation. Think about it. You are trying to eat clean for a week but on your way home from work the only place you will pass is Zaxby’s. Do you choose the salad or chicken finger plate? The truth is, your mind has worked so hard in developing this pattern that even though you may not like it or want it anymore it’s what makes you feel at ease in that moment. Chicken plate it is, Zax sauce and honey mustard please. This is when you honestly ask yourself: what am I really up to? What am I trying to do here? Patterns are there to teach us lessons about ourselves—to reveal something that we already know but won’t dare admit. Sometimes we are quick to tell ourselves: Once I’m with someone different I will no longer react like “this” or once I have a job I like I’ll be a better worker. What we don’t realize is we are our patterns, not the situations around us.
Although breaking old patterns and creating new ones sound difficult, it can be done. According to counselors, the best way is to start small. Make a list of the patterns you would like to change. Beside each pattern write what pattern you would like instead. Start working on only one. Once you are able to choose your desired option over your old one, you are in the clear to move on to the next pattern.
One thing to remember: Stop trying to be perfect and stop trying to make everyone else around you perfect. It is a battle you will never win. Be comfortable with your flaws and all. Look at them as unique tidbits that only you possess. There’s nothing wrong with trying to be better. There’s nothing crazy about wanting more out of yourself. Life is meant for the living and living is unpredictable and sometimes so can your reactions to things. Your patterns are nothing to fret over or begin a ridiculous staring contest with, but if they are causing dysfunction in your life or repeatedly giving outcomes that are less flattering than you wish, then making a change in the direction of what you truly desire is nothing more than freedom.
**If you caught my last post, here is a glimpse of what I’ve been able to knock off thus far…..
1. Going somewhere I haven't been: Chicago
2. Dyeing my hair
3. Make my business cards
4. Start paying off my student loans
5. Visit the Goat Farm Art Center in Atlanta
6. Try a food I never have before
7. Talk to an old friend
8. Learn to type without looking