We all have habitual patterns. Some serve us and some don’t anymore. Our patterns are like well-worn pathways in our brains. Someone irritates us and we yell. We get negative feedback and we berate ourselves until we feel we are not worthy and will always fail. We feel anxious and worry about money or our health or our kids constantly.
Research shows that we can actually recondition our neural pathways and build new patterns that may be more productive. The first step is to simply notice your current pattern and name it ideally with empathy. “I notice something in me is feeling angry as my teenager yells.” “I notice I am beating myself up because I heard negative feedback from my boss.” “I notice that I am worrying about having enough money.” “I notice that I eat ice cream when feel alone on weekends.”
Recognize that you are human and experiencing these reactions is a part of our human condition. Your pattern did serve you at some point and now you sense it is less useful.
Practice exploring a different perspective. You can imagine how a friend, a book or movie character or even your wiser future self may see the current situation. “Perhaps my teen has not built the skill of managing himself. I will demonstrate that I can.” “I am sure my boss is incredibly stressed and I recall the others times I received positive praise. This negative comment does not wipe out my many successes. What can I learn from this?” “I’ve always had enough money.” “Recall the people in your life that care for you.”
Practice noticing your habitual patterns, giving yourself empathy and trying on different perspectives.