Patterns: A Process and a Practice
Have you ever wondered why changing patterns is often so difficult? And by patterns I mean any psychological, emotional, behavioral framework that has grown familiar and undetected due to its frequent usage.
Have you noticed the way in which you react to certain tones in people's voices, or the way you avoid dealing with uncomfortable situations. The different ways you cope with stress or how procrastination creates a temporary buffer to doing things we don't want to do.
It may take us years to become aware of these life long held patterns. Once aware, however, things become trickier, the real job of processing and change begins. I mean, it's difficult to unsee the seen.
The process part begins as we find space and distance to see the links that hold these patterns in place. With distance we may get to see the core and the source of these outgrown ways of being as something that we've often carried unquestionably along. This work begins inside as we first notice the imprints, the architecture of the habits we have formed, the fearful nature of what lies beyond and the lack of practice at trusting ourselves in the face of change. This process is lengthy, as lengthy as life itself. There are many layers of this unpacking, twists and turns, packed and piled upon each other, laden with meaning and full of regrets. I know, it's not easy, but it's necessary and the doing gets easier as it gets done.
Process is the start of a long unraveling, a constant reminder of choices and options, many too new to have names. But slowly we begin to get the hang of it, to awaken our curiosity and to notice when our functioning, our thinking and our feelings are being directed by one of these outdated vestiges of the past. I mean, compassion is key. It helps us to remember that these patterns were often created as a way to cope with our life when our resources were different, when we were different.
But awareness and insight from unraveling and processing is just one part of this endless cycle. The next step is to notice what new perspectives, angles, experiences of ourselves begin to grow in the spaces where these old patterns lived. This is usually a difficult time for most and a time where 'If not this, then what,' and 'if not this, then how' becomes audible inside us. Our identities so deeply enmeshed in the habitual nature of past reactions, beliefs and choices, feels unprepared and unsupported during this transition.
It is then when practice becomes the key component in this cycle of change. Once this internal process has begun, the external practice begins. The practice of creating an environment, a context within our life to hold, support and develop these new perspectives of ourselves is fundamental. Without this practice holding ground, holding space, change is just an idea and the old patterns will quickly take their still warm place within us. Practice is what makes change happen.
Creating the practice necessary to support the new patterns in our life can take so many forms. It is by practicing that awareness that alerts us to old habits and by practicing the neutral observation and the compassion that allows us to strengthen new ways of seeing ourselves. By practicing the words which support new identities of ourselves, and by creating routines that reinforce new ways of moving, of listening, of thinking. Practice is the key, without it change is only a beautiful idea.