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Our Patterns of NFTBs: Print this and fix ’em!

Building Self Esteem

We began a two-part series yesterday on our patterns of negative feelings, thoughts, and behaviors (NFTBs). And now that we’re aware of them, it’s time to take a look at how we can turn things around.

Here’s a link to yesterday’s piece.

So we established that we human-types are creatures of habit – good ones and bad. It’s not surprising, then, that we often up the ante and fall into patterns so easily. Hey, nothing wrong with them; if they bring good things to our lives.

But when we create and perpetuate patterns of NFTBs to the point where we’re in deep distress and/or experiencing impairments in key areas of life functioning – it’s time to blow the whistle and get busy.

How Do We Find Them?

Like anything in life, there’s no way we’re going to fix what’s broken – if we don’t know it’s broken. And unless we experience an epiphany – the great Aha! moment – we’re going to have to look for our patterns of NFTBs. And it can be tricky business.

Make a List (and check it twice)

The best way to get started in our search is to break down our lives into key areas of functioning. You may come up with others; however, I’m going to suggest these…

  • Emotional, Spiritual, and Mental Well-Being
  • Physical Well-Being
  • Relationships
  • Work and/or School
  • Finances
  • Social Interactions

(Oh, by the way, a Word document or paper and pencil is going to come in handy right about now.)

Now that we’ve identified (and recorded) our key areas of life functioning, it’s time to take an inventory. That’s right, after mulling over each area, which may take a few days, it’s time to record our observations. And we have to be brutally honest!

Examples: You notice you’ve become increasingly irritable over the past year. You’ve gained 25 pounds over the past year and a half. You haven’t had a romantic relationship in 15 years. That escalating irritability of yours has led to three write-ups at work over the past nine months.

You may find that your list is particularly lengthy. And taking a look at it may be upsetting and overwhelming. It’s crucial that we don’t let it get to that point!

We may find it necessary to do some prioritizing. My recommendation is to work with no more than two items on your list at any given time. So let’s review our lists in a priority-minded manner. We’ll have plenty of time to deal with items farther down the list.

The Hows and Whys

Our list is all set to go. But how could we ever hope to turn things around if we don’t know how and why our patterns of NFTBs developed and were sustained. You guessed it, we need to record the “hows and whys” next to each item on our list.

I’m going to suggest we first focus upon the concept of gratification. “What am I getting out of this pattern of NFTBs?”

Need some ideas?

  • Self-punishment and/or destruction
  • Punishing and/or destroying others
  • Attention

Onward and Upward!

Let’s roll up our sleeves. In keeping with our emphasis upon gratification, let’s keep this in mind. If we’re receiving a measure of gratification from a particular pattern of NFTBs, wouldn’t our chances of breaking free increase if we had a healthy substitute?

Let’s say we recorded occasionally pulling the “sick act” on our list. It’s been causing us to miss work and we’re falling behind. Thinking things over, we come to the realization that we’re receiving gratification from the sympathy we receive from friends (but it’s waning).

So we have to find a substitute form of gratification. Perhaps we begin to take particularly good care of ourselves. So much so that we begin to receive compliments on our appearance and energy. Wouldn’t that be gratifying?

And there you have it.

Monitoring and Management

After we perform the necessary hard work in turning things around, we want to make sure there’s no backsliding. Simple! Let’s keep our list within arm’s reach at all times. And every chance we get, we’ll review and update it.

Maybe we need to work a little harder on a specific pattern. Perhaps it’s time to move on to the next item on our list.

Bottom-line: we can’t allow our dedication and effort to go for naught!

That’s All Folks

In closing, creating and sustaining patterns of NFTBs isn’t the end of the world. We’re human. But it’s up to each of us to do our best preventive work, disciplining ourselves to practice ongoing self-assessment and management.

Then, and only then, will our patterns of NFTBs become bad memories.

Feelings, thoughts, or examples? Why not share with us in a comment?

image credit bittbox.com

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  • Oh – this is speaking to me.
    It’s kind of exciting!
    I have this thing were I “do” anxiety from 4-7pm most evenings.
    I have realized it’s a habit – a pattern.
    What I HADN’T looked at was that I was getting a pay off for it.
    I read your ideas for pay-offs and thought nah! they don’t apply to me.
    But I let them percolate during the day and then the one that I thought was definitely NOT me,
    wriggled its way in and said HEY LOOK AT ME.
    AND……it seems like I’m doing it for the most ridiculous reason.
    I think I could be punishing myself for NOT feeling miserable enough when my husband was ill, and both my beloved grandmothers died at the same time and we learnt we couldn’t have children.
    I think I’m punishing myself for NOT being devastated, depressed, knocked off my perch.
    Is it possible I was depressed and anxious because I hadn’t met an expectation of experiencing depression and anxiety?
    Oh man, I think I just blew my mind!
    Wow – this is great food for thought.
    Thanks Bill – I love your articles (even though they make my brain hurt)!

    • That’s character-building pain!!!