Have you ever noticed an overarching theme or pattern in your life? Perhaps you keep getting into crummy relationships or jobs that you hate. Perhaps every single time you get close to someone they end up betraying you. Maybe every time you save a little bit of money something comes up and you wind up broke again. Or maybe every time you commit to a fitness and diet plan you end up getting derailed.
These are all examples of negative patterns. If you’ve noticed a pattern like this in your life, congratulations! You’ve taken the first step towards setting yourself free. Without awareness these patterns can continue until they’ve completely hijacked our lives. Below are some tips that have helped me overcome unwanted patterns in my life. Take what you feel is useful!
Take complete ownership
This can be challenging. When negative situations keep arising it can be easy to lay blame on others. Of course, other people are completely, 100% responsibly for their actions. However, that means that I too am completely responsible for my own actions, and that includes the decision to enter or stay in a toxic situation. And there are always reasons. I’ve told myself that I have to stay at job that didn’t serve me because I have to pay bills and because it’s the responsible thing to do. Ultimately I made that choice. I’ve kept unkind people in my life for longer than I should have because I told myself that I could love them better- the unkind behavior was theirs, the decision to stick around was mine. Once I was able to take an honest look at how my own choices were keeping me hostage I was able to break out of victim mode and work towards change. And I’m still working on it! Making positive changes takes time, and that’s OK.
Find the common denominator
Personally, I’ve found that the common denominator in a lot of my negative patterns is fear. I was afraid of leaving the security of a crappy job, so I stayed longer than I should have. Once I finally did leave I was so afraid that I would’t find something better that I wound up taking the next crappy job that came along. The lesson here is that once you find the root of the problem you can address the underlying issue that’s causing this pattern to keep popping up in your life.
It may seem cheesy, but loving yourself through positive thoughts and actions can help you to transcend negative patterns. Within most of us in a wounded, traumatized part. And unfortunately if this part of ourselves is left unhealed it will continue to steer us into more hurtful , yet familiar situations. This is where self-love comes in. When we love ourselves in real, tangible ways it creates an atmosphere of healing within our minds and bodies. This could look like setting up a practice of meditation, gratitude, yoga or journaling. Whatever a self-love practice looks like to you, committing to it can help you break free from old patterns.
Affirm that it’s only temporary
Personally, a lot of times when I’m in a bad situation or relationship it feels so permanent; I wake up everyday thinking, “this is just how my life is ”. But that fatalistic attitude only breeds more negativity. It can help to affirm that this is only temporary, a stepping stone, that everything is constantly changing and these circumstances will too. If you believe that an unwanted situation can successfully be cleared from your life, eventually it will be.
Focus on the future
It’s easy to focus on the past- especially hurtful or unjust things that have happened. While it can be valuable to look back and take the lessons from all of that, dwelling on the past too much can simply cause those old patterns to snowball into the present. Focus on how you want your life to be in a year, or 5 or 10 years. Let your imagine run wild. Your positive thoughts will help manifest a brighter future free from old patterns.
It can be hard to break patterns on your own. Sometimes it’s necessary to have someone else shine light on those parts of yourself that are holding onto the pattern. This could look like talking it over with a trusted friend, counselor or spiritual adviser; someone who can give you a fresh and honest perspective.
Be gentle with yourself as you work on these patterns. It can take some time and you may find yourself sliding back into old behaviors, but that is all part of the process. Stay aware, stay grounded and stay connected to your support system. Once you’ve done this important work you will feel so much freer and life will get so much easier.