Change Your Patterns, Change Your Life
Excerpt from Stress, Be Gone! by Ann Strong
Who among us can’t relate to the man who walked down the street and fell in a hole? Yes, it took him a very long time to get out. Then, he walked down the street and fell in the same hole again, but got out a little more quickly. The next time he carefully walked around the hole, and finally he just walked down a different street. We all encounter situations time and time again that trigger the same emotions. Some of us often end up feeling abandoned. Others continually feel unloved. Still others constantly wrestle with feeling their needs will never be met. And, so it goes . . .
We aren’t solely in charge of situations in our lives because they often involve other people, but we always have a choice about our responses to them. Yet, we often respond automatically from ingrained patterns. We can change these reactions by practicing mindfulness during potentially stressful situations.
Say for example, you work with a client who consistently comes to meetings late and you feel held hostage like you used to with your mother. If you pay attention to your feelings while waiting for your client, you can catch the moment you start to globalize. (I’ll never get what I want. No one respects my wishes. Etc., etc., etc.) You then have a choice about how you respond. You don’t have to automatically react from the hurt child position. You can set boundaries, fire the client or enjoy the break while you wait for your client.
If you would like to change your patterns to change your life:
- practice mindfulness, becoming more aware of your ingrained patterns.
- if you feel you’re responding to something “in the same way that always gets you in trouble,” ask a friend, colleague or coach to help you see your blind spot.
- choose new ways to respond to the same types of emotional triggers.
“Instead of being swept away by an emotion, and so just automatically reacting as we have hundreds of times before when we felt that way, we have a choice: we can be creative in our response.”
– Tara Bennett-Goleman (From the book, “Emotional Alchemy”)