Dear Willow: How Do I Break a Behavior Pattern?
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There are certain areas of my life that I want to change but I don’t know how. I feel like I try to take steps forward for a period of time, but eventually end up repeating the same pattern again. Do you have any ideas how to initiate changing a pattern? I really want to do something different, but just can’t seem to actualize this long term. HELP!
First of all, congratulate yourself on being aware enough to notice you want to make a change. Awareness IS the first step in changing anything in our life. We first must be able to have enough perceptibility to recognize when a pattern is not working for us.
Here is a simple formula I use for my Coaching for Transformation clients who want a change. This may help you with breaking into new behaviors and positioning your self in the intended direction, without the old pattern weighing your psyche down.
1. Identify old pattern:
Think of a pattern as a behavior - an organization of individual actions. What is the specific pattern? An example might be smoking. In this example, it is a behavior with many distinct actions that create the pattern of smoking. Clearly state and write down what the pattern is.
2. Identify specific actions in the old pattern:
In the above example, get clearer as to what the specific actions are with smoking. It is a series or sequence of steps that result in smoking. There is the initial thought of wanting to smoke followed by grabbing a lighter, pack of cigarettes, heading outside, lighting the cigarette, putting it to your mouth, and inhaling.
3. Know the favored action:
What action in the pattern do you like the most? By identifying this individual action or set of actions, you can then begin to switch them for actions that are more relevant to your life. If you like the smell of the smoke because it reminds you of someone or something with significance, you can then choose a different, more serving action to replace the old one. Perhaps a better option would be to replace cigarette smoke with aromatherapy and the use of essential oils.
This is a simple and effective means to shifting from one set of patterns to establishing new ones that will serve you more dynamically in the future. If you need clarification and would like to speak to do this exercise to more completion, email email@example.com and we can go into more detail. There is a great strategy to ensure your new pattern becomes permanent while maintaining the level of association you are seeking from the original pattern.
Good luck to you. Keep breaking patterns to live the outstanding life you deserve.