You’re in the midst of yet another miserable life outcome (keywords: “yet another”). And it finally hits you. “Hmmm, this is becoming a pattern.” Depending upon what you do with that epiphany, your life may have just taken a gigantic turn for the best.
We people-mammals are creatures of habit – good ones and bad. We do patterns (well). Oh, some may try to fight it, and do their best to live scattered lives. No matter, human nature is faithfully working in the background.
As we take a look at the phenomenon of patterns, we’re going to do so within the context of negative feelings, thoughts, and behaviors (NFTBs). In fact, we’re going to approach our work as a two-part series (it’s that important).
As a counselor, and one who’s had exhausting wrestling matches with patterns of NFTBs, I find the concept of patterns fascinating and important. ‘Course that’s after I finally came to understand they were kicking my butt.
As I implied at the beginning, gaining insight into our patterns of NFTBs is crucial. The cold and hard fact is, if we don’t; life becomes a chronically unpleasant journey.
Oh, before we move forward, I want to make an important point. Not each and every one of our patterns of NFTBs merit alarm and calling Psych 911. It happens, so relax.
I still value and emphasize one of the very first things I learned in shrink-school. An emotionally or mentally difficult situation doesn’t become a disorder unless it’s causing significant distress and/or causing an impairment in key areas of life functioning.
Does that make sense? Let’s keep that morsel of fact in our back pockets for the series (always, actually).
How Do We Snag Patterns of NFTBs?
Well, our patterns of NFTBs sure as heck had to come from somewhere – right? Let’s see if we can come up with a handful of candidates.
We all come into this world with unique genetic engineering. Included in the package is our temperament – our characteristic or habitual inclination or mode of emotional response.
This is formed very early-on in the womb. How could it (and other genetic realities) not have a profound impact upon our patterns of NFTBs?
So our pre-wired selves have arrived in this world. Ready or not, it’s time for our environment to offer its project input. Family of origin dynamics, schooling, friends, social activities – you name it – they all add their distinctive touch to the design.
And along the way, we take our strokes and licks. Now, we may believe we’re doing a fine job of absorbing the licks; however, not-so-nice impressions are being burned upon our minds. These only encourage our patterns of NFTBs.
Great experiences, or nasty – it’s all a matter of learning.
What Makes Them Stick?
I can’t think of one single solitary pattern of NFTBs that isn’t maintained and sustained because we’re somehow deriving gratification from it.
Who knows our agenda(s)? Maybe it’s about self-harm. Perhaps we want to hurt someone close to us, past or present. As long as the way in which we feel, think, and behave is providing something we believe we need – our patterns of NFTBs will continue.
Another significant reason our patterns of NFTBs forge ahead is because we’ve always gotten away with them. That’s right, no one’s ever called us on them. Or if they did, we didn’t believe they had much to back it up.
Now, I suppose we could claim a degree of innocence here, but that only goes so far. Sooner or later, we have to hold ourselves accountable. No more free passes.
Finally, it’s quite possible that we were never taught how to monitor and manage our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. So our patterns of NFTBs are grounded in the tragedy of never learning self-awareness and self-management.
Okay, let’s put the brakes on Part 1.
We’re off to a great start in our discussion. The next piece in the series will review some of the things we can do to turn things around. Come on back!
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