It’s human nature that we live our life with patterns. Sometimes this is something that we do as an every day part of life (our routine when we get in the car, and get ready to drive), or when you see a particular person (giving a hug, or turning around and walking in another direction), or when you go to a certain place (such as anxiety at the doctors), or in a specific situation (running away from something, or hiding).
Some patterns are actually positive and helpful for us, or they can be detrimental in some way, and a pattern we want to change. Some are just the subconscious recognising a situation and reacting in a way that it reacted before, some are about recreating something from the past that wasn’t resolved the first time, some are about seeking security (with security being what you have known before, rather than what is necessarily ‘safe’) and some are totally different.
When people come to therapy wanting to change a pattern, it generally has an emotional reaction involved. The subconscious can create a pattern in terms of an emotional response to a specific stimulus (be that a place, person, situation, touch, smell or anything). So, someone sees a spider, panics and cries, someone goes to a doctor and leaves before being seen due to anxiety, someone goes into an exam and immediately believes s/he will fail so doesn’t manage to complete as much as possible, someone being reprimanded at work and crying despite not wanting to.
Those are quite clear what starts the pattern, however, it’s very common for people to be engaging in patterns without awareness or without knowing what caused it. For example, someone who gets rageful when feeling trapped, or who shouts at their child when they are scared for them, or who gets into a relationship and ends it before it really starts, or someone who repeatedly gets into unhealthy relationships, or someone who meets someone and feels like they need to please them. People might just see themselves as rageful, or angry, or unable to succeed in a relationship, deserving of an unhealty relationship, or ‘it’s just how I am’.
It is perfectly possible to change a pattern, and different therapies do this in different ways. Some therapies, such as counselling, focus on self awareness and learning and gaining the understanding of the pattern and what is behind it. There may also be an element of healing whatever initially caused the pattern. In something like BWRT® the approach is entirely different and is about breaking the pattern and changing the response. Hypnotherapy is another therapy that would involve healing the root cause for the pattern, and then maybe some consolidation of how the person is afterward that has been healed. There are also other therapies that work in other ways. CBT would work with challenging the thought processes of the pattern system and working to change them.
I read something recently about someone who lived his life with really challenging anxiety. He set himself a task to do something that made him anxious every day (therefore challenging his pattern of anxiety) and, through this approach, he has been able to move free from his anxiety and achieve things beyond what he believed possible. He also did this without therapy.
So, now you’ve read that… what are your patterns?
Do you have patterns in your relationships? In your emotions? In any places?
Do you know what caused them?
How do they impact on your life? Do they have a positive influence?… Or are you wanting to change that particular pattern?
And if you do have patterns you want to change… what do you think you need to do to start making that change?
How would you like those patterns to be instead?
When are you going to start that journey of change?