Have you noticed how often people seem to create the very thing they don’t want? It might be having an accident, sabotaging a relationship, or having financial difficulties, to name only a few. This pattern has fascinated me for a long time, and not just as a therapist. True confession time… I have seen this pattern creep into my own life (ugh!) from time to time!
I was recently reminded about how powerful this pattern can be. I was talking to a sales professional, who is responsible for growth and development in his company. I was there to share how our work could support his staff in being more productive and creative. After a half hour of conversation he said,
“I love what you are talking about, but I have no idea how this really works. Is there anyway you can give me a demonstration so I understand it better?”
I assured him there was, and asked if it would be okay to use himself for the example.
“Great,” he replied, and so I asked him what he wanted in terms of his job.
“To grow this business as much as possible, and be as innovative as I can to accomplish this goal.”
As we explored this idea, what emerged very quickly was his past experience of going bankrupt and his fear he would make a mistake that could cost him this job.
Clearly, his system is watching out for anything that could go wrong, and as you can imagine, it is very hard to be confident and innovative while worrying about making a mistake. His cautiousness is the exact opposite of what he said he wanted to be, and will “deliver” the exact opposite results of what he wants, too! This is a great example of how the past will interfere in the future he is trying to create.
Here are a few questions that may help you spot if this is happening for you:
- Have you had a painful experience that you are afraid could happen again? This could include having an accident, a loss, and embarrassing experience.
- Do you think somethings are just beyond your reach, or not meant for you?
- Are you afraid to try something for fear something negative will happen?
If you answered yes to any of these questions it means your system is on active “alert” and feeling the need to protect you. I encourage you to take a moment and just feel if this maybe true for you. Are you feeling a little cautious, wanting to be careful, or have a desire to be extra certain before proceeding?
When you think about your life does it seem appropriate to be on alert? If there doesn’t seem to be a “good” reason for this, then it may be you need to do some “updating.” I’ll talk about that in a minute. Noticing the signals from your system is really important, and you do want to check-in and see what’s needed. It’s like a warning light on the dashboard of your car coming on. And if this “light” has been on a long time, it’s even more important to think about what is going on. Having the warning light on for a long time means your system has been struggling, and this will inevitably cost you in a variety of ways.
So what if you are doing pretty well, and yet you are still functioning with more constraint than you want? One of the exciting areas of research these days is on the brain and how it really functions. Dr. Joe Dispenza is writing and speaking a great deal about how we have to take control of some of what our brain does. It is very easy, once a neural pathway is laid down, for the brain to keep using that pathway. Worrying is a great example of this. If you have spent lots of time worrying, your system has those pathways well-grooved. Once you start worrying it can virtually continue all by itself, without any further input from you. This is like the tail wagging the dog.
Here is how it works – A thought gets you feeling anxious or worried, and then the feeling arises, and the body responds to that feeling (picture a flood of chemicals cascading into your system). Now the feeling creates more worried, anxious thoughts, which perpetuate the chemical cascade, and the cycle continues on and on. The body actually is running the show at this point, not your mind. The crazy thing is we can worry about all sorts of things that are not even real. Recognizing this is happening allows you to intervene.
Do anything you need to do in order to shift this pattern, because it simply isn’t serving you — take a break, go for a walk, listen to music, have a shower… the list is endless. It’s clear that these diversion strategies alone won’t bring about the deep-rooted change that we really need, but they ARE enough of a pattern interrupt that they will keep you from deepening the grooves of those patterns that just aren’t serving you. In his book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, (isn’t that a great title?), Dr. Joe Dispenza bluntly writes about how “addicted” we are to patterns of thinking that do not deliver what we want. Check out his stuff it’s really great.
Now having said all that, I also know we can have traumatic experiences which have been logged in our nervous system, that really need to be cleared by a professional. These experiences keep people in a state of hyper-vigilance which is very destructive. Clearing these allows for the opportunity to literally “re-boot” the nervous system, and clear the deck. This makes a tremendous difference in how often, and the degree to which you get triggered. Once your system has a “fresh start,” then staying present to any old patterns of thinking that no longer serve, is much much easier.
I believe our goal is to be present, and bring to the world our very best! This means we are showing up with passion and creativity, gratitude and compassion. Anything less means you are caught, and living from a pattern that was created in the past.
So here’s the challenge for this next week:
Try moving through your week with your heart more open than you have ever been, standing in all you truly are, and “showing” up as your powerful, wonderful self. Notice what that’s like. Is it a breeze? A challenge? What comes up for you as you try and live from this place of inner strength and peace.
I’d love to hear what you experience! Try it, and leave a comment telling me the story of what it was like for you 🙂
Feel free to pass this along to anyone you think might be interested. Email it, share it on Social Media… include us in your circle. Thanks!
Until next time, have a great week, and check back soon!
If you’re keen to learn more about how you are limiting yourself,
check out The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.