In this blog, let’s think about habits and patterns which our minds create. These are so powerful and can feel like we have no control over them.
Firstly we need to be clear what changes are needed and which ones belong to whom. When we are unaware of a habit, and what I mean there is you just do it without noticing then the first task is to simply become aware of it. No judgement, just notice. When we are unaware of our habits and patterns then these are often so ingrained they are just part of who we are, or they sit in a blind spot. From here, it is hard to spot how we have affected the situation and to be able to see what needs to be done.
We have to catch ourselves and understand why it is happening so we can change it. We can’t change what we haven’t spotted. Our lives are full of behaviour patterns, thinking patterns too. Habits. They are familiar to us and so the norm.
We obviously have many positive ones and are a huge part of how and who we are, while others can cause us pain and suffering.
So just imagine all these habits create a ‘groove’ in our neural network, which leads us in the same direction time and again. This includes what we do and how we do it. We have patterns in our thinking, these become habits too. On a basic level have you noticed that you will put your shoes and socks on exactly the same way every time? We do so many things in a particular way without any conscious thought as it is built in as a habit.
We can have instant and same thoughts about something which are a pattern or habit in themselves. We can have the same thought every time about a person or situation. This can feel so strong it is immovable. For example, a person can think that people driving a red car are flashy or that all men are predators. For good and positive thoughts usually there is no concern though many of our thoughts can limit us and cause difficulties. When you are unaware of the hidden pattern it is likely to become a habit.
In some situations, and with some habits or behaviours we can feel ‘stuck’. I often hear people saying I feel so stuck. You are unsure what to do, never mind how to make changes. It can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. More often than not you don’t understand what causes the ‘stuck’ feeling or why you are behaving the way you are. ‘I can’t seem to control it’ or ‘I can’t help it’ are common statements. The behaviour or thinking is autopilot and the response follows, therefore a pattern. This might be around the foods you go for, how you are around exercise, getting tasks done, your thoughts about how you look, literally anything and everything. We have a habit about how we think about something, and is likely to be based on an experience. You had a bad experience at a shop or restaurant and your auto thinking is probably ‘no good there’. But based on one experience. When we can spot our patterns, we are well on our way to shifting them, so remember anything is achievable.
It is not to be underestimated how powerful self-limiting beliefs are and to know that they can rule our lives. Our subconscious mind holds onto any beliefs we have about ourselves, positive or negative, and this will determine how we behave. These beliefs are often deep-rooted and, if not explored and changed, will define you. The negative ones will limit your experiences and can stop you from pushing yourself into new, different or challenging situations, including relationships. When this becomes a way of being, you then limit your hopes and expectations. This is likely to distract you from your own true path. When we have negative thinking patterns, then we are very likely to experience issues. It can feel overwhelming when we are constantly unhappy or unsettled and we often put this down to someone else’s behaviour.
If we take some time to understand why we have responded in a certain way then we can move on. Our self limiting or negative beliefs cause us to distort and interpret situations. Whatever you believe about yourself affects you in most, if not all situations. An example, if you believe you don’t deserve to be treated well, then you are likely to attract people who treat you poorly and put you down. Your belief of yourself is then validated. This kind of person is clearly not a positive influence in your life, although the secret message is more about you than them. The feedback for you and the reason you attracted them into your life, was for you to see these beliefs, which are often hidden and you can set to work to change them. Once these are realised and changed then you can attract the right things in your life. Remembering that many beliefs about yourself are not true. It can never be true that ‘you don’t deserve love’. Your beliefs and decisions are created based on what has happened to you, how people have communicated and interacted with you. This combination creates your reality, your interpretation. This interpretation will then become your truth.
We see the world as ” we believe it to be…
Just as your mind ‘protects’ you by providing an automatic response to a danger or perceived danger, it is also constantly searching for any evidence that a belief is true. The mind creates an internal response to a situation based on the information that is stored. For example, a husband hasn’t texted during the day to check if his wife is feeling better and this can be interpreted as he doesn’t care. The mind automatically gives a thought relating to the beliefs within. It may be ‘This has happened to us before, so watch out’ or ‘You are not good enough, so he/she isn’t interested in you’. Another example would be two colleagues huddled together in the office and a third person, who has issues with self-confidence, interprets this as them talking about her and taking it personally. When we doubt ourselves, maybe whether we are good enough or not lovable, not able to be successful in a relationship, job, or anything else for that matter, it has a direct impact on almost everything — most importantly, on our happiness. Paying attention to these negative thoughts and beliefs starts us on a journey of self-discovery.
When we are unaware of our own behaviour, notice we are likely to blame someone else. And feel confused or miserable. We can lose sight of who we are, feel lost and hence be stuck. In my book, I call this the re-sit class.
How we see ourselves plays out in our life and we can only break these patterns when we are honest with ourselves. It is fair to say that we all have limiting beliefs in some shape or another. The impact of these beliefs can be destructive.
Regardless of any limiting belief, remember as humans there is an innate, strong desire to be liked and loved. This can present itself in an unhealthy way and overrule everything else. When our limiting self beliefs are ‘playing out’, the need becomes desperate to please, to seek approval and be loved. What will follow are behaviours to try and settle these feelings of discomfort, which is often rooted in insecure or doubt based thinking. The behaviours and even habits then become a response, sometimes erratic or irrational, and certainly not one that is necessarily favourable or positive.
Some negative beliefs can be kept buried and can be less obvious on a day-to-day basis. Having said that, they can be triggered, often unexpectedly, when a new situation or person comes along. Sometimes it can come as a surprise! For example, a new relationship prompts a limiting belief relating to insecurity to pop up, maybe in response to something the new partner is doing without realising. These triggers can happen in all different settings. It may be at work. You are plodding away happily, and you get a new role or promotion. You had been fine in the old role but your new manager has a different approach. They are quite abrupt in their communication. This throws you into a place of doubt, uncertainty and can lead you to question your ability and performance. This triggers an emotional response based on an old memory and so unlocks your limiting self-beliefs. In a personal situation, you might constantly refuse invitations to functions, events or even dates because of the belief that no one enjoys your company or is interested in anything you have to say – after all, you may believe that you don’t have anything interesting to say! Or you may make yourself go to a party and when you get there you feel awkward, on the edge of the conversations and not engaged, which reinforces your beliefs that you are not popular. You start to feel isolated by everyone else but, in fact, you have isolated yourself and there lies the problem. In many situations, we find ourselves thinking that others are judging us and a feeling of inferiority grows. Through your limiting beliefs, you may have put others in a superior position, although it is you that is feeling inferior. If this is you, to any varying degree, and this kind of situation sounds familiar, it is a huge step to acknowledge this.
And when you do, a big well done!. It is not easy though challenging your negative behaviours, thoughts and habits will get you closer to being the real you.