Unravelling your Patterns

What happens when you are triggered by something that another person has said or done? In our last two blogs, I explored emotions that overwhelm, and also our day-to-day yin/yang of emotions

Our emotions are such a gift to us, when we know how to work with them effectively.

That means being able to (a) recognise that we’re triggered; (b) swim in the emotional tension rather than immediately reacting, and (c) take a step back and ask for a fresh perspective.

Yet sometimes when we step back and ask for a fresh perspective, we may feel like no one is listening. We’re still too caught in our pain to be able to achieve that level of transformation.

When that happens, there’s a great process we can use to explore what’s really going on for us. It’s a process I learned from one of my mentors, Scott Washington, and it’s the quickest way I’ve found to unravel our deepest patterns, and to access and face our deepest wounds.
Here’s the process for unravelling your pattern:

Step 1: What’s the problem?

Acknowledge the issue you are presently facing, without going too much into the story. If you were telling this to someone else, it would be the 3 to 5 minute version.

For example, imagine a woman (Sally) has an ongoing health challenge that’s been there for a few years, and today she is not feeling well. Her partner asks her how she is, and she lets them know she is feeling sick. Her partner nods and mutters something like “Oh, that’s a shame”, then they move the conversation on to another topic. Sally is left feeling like they don’t really care, and are just paying lip service to her needs.

Step 2: What’s really the problem?

This is where you dig a bit deeper, to find out what’s at the core of this issue. It takes a little bit of exploration and a willingness to recognise that the surface issue really is just the tip of the iceberg, and there is a much bigger iceberg underneath.

In our example above, Sally may acknowledge that in her home situation, she often feels taken for granted. She does a lot of the day-to-day chores for her husband and children, and no one ever asks her if she needs a helping hand. And when she does feel unwell, even then she feels ignored, like no one really cares.

So if we were to summarise the real problem, it would be that Sally feels invisible and unacknowledged – not just around health, but around many other things.

Step 3: Access a Memory

Holding the intention for support around this issue, ask for a childhood memory to pop into your mind. You’re seeking a memory that is uncomfortable in some way. Trust whatever memory arises for you.

Taking that memory, step into it as if it’s really happening.

In Sally’s case, let’s imagine she is 6 years old, and her friend got a puppy for her birthday. Sally went to her own parents and begged for a puppy of her own, but her Dad replied with, “What do you want a puppy for? We’d be the ones who’d have to feed it and clean up its mess. Not a chance.” Sally’s Mum just changed the topic of conversation.

Step 4: What does the world look like?

Now, we start to drill down into the memory. Putting ourselves into that memory, letting ourselves be that child, we look at the world around us. What does the world look like? We’ll end up with a list of adjectives, such as “It’s a frightening world, it’s an unsafe world, it’s a chaotic world.”

In Sally’s example, she may come up with adjectives such as:
  • It’s an unjust world
  • It’s a bleak world
  • It’s a lonely world
  • It’s an empty world
  • It’s a world where no one cares
  • It’s an unloving world
  • It’s a cruel world
  • It’s a world where the practical is more important than the heart
In this part of the exercise, make sure you stick with descriptions of the world, and don’t be tempted to come up with any “I” statements. Those will be part of the next step.

Step 5: Who am I?

This is where we step into the “I” statements. For this part, assume that the adjectives about the world are real. That’s the world you are living in. So given you are in a world like this, what does that mean about you? What conclusions would you draw?

This is the most painful part of this exercise, because it brings you face to face with your very own “Dweller on the Edge of the Threshold” (ie. your most cruel and hurtful thoughts about yourself).

Because it’s the most painful, just be careful not to jump to the next section (how do I operate)….keep yourself on the “I AM” statements.

In Sally’s case, she may decide:
  • No one loves me, therefore I AM UNLOVABLE
  • My needs are unimportant (therefore I AM UNIMPORTANT)
  • I’m not as good as other people (because my friend got a puppy and I didn’t), therefore I AM LESS THAN
  • I’m being punished (therefore THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME)
  • I’m dependent on others to make me feel good, therefore I AM NOT ENOUGH
You can understand that intense pain and soul-destroying nature of these beliefs. And to this 6 year old child, these beliefs are total reality.

Step 6: How do I operate?

This step is a lot easier. Ask yourself “Given these beliefs about myself, what strategies did I develop to survive in a world like this?”

This is where we identify how our unique personality traits (aka our ego) came into existence. It was created to help us survive in an untenable world.

We can take any of these “Who am I?” statements, and see the various ways we adapted our behaviours in order to avoid the real pain of that statement.

In Sally’s example, if we take the first statement “I am unlovable”, she may see that the part of her who always gives to others (keeping a clean house, over-caring for her family, even when they take her for granted), are simply her coping mechanism. She’s trying to make herself more lovable in the eyes of those around her, by giving more than she receives.

If we take the statements “I am invisible” and “I am unimportant”, it’s very possible that she’s created these ongoing health issues as a way of drawing attention and care to herself from those around her. Ie. “If I’m in need, maybe those around me will give to me in the same way I give to them.”

With the statements “I am less than” and “I am not enough”, she may realise that she became a perfectionist in her work, in order to prove that she is as good as others…but this may have contributed to the downturn in her own health, because she was pouring all her energy into her outer image of being successful in her career, rather than caring for her inner needs.

Step 7: What’s my Choice?

So now you’ve identified the decisions that you (as a child) made about the world you were living in and who you are (ie. those negative beliefs about yourself). You’ve also seen how that has shaped your entire personality and strategies for getting your needs met. So the next step is how to heal this.

That’s where a choice comes in. A choice is like an affirmation, only it’s even more effective. The problem with affirmations is that we are telling ourself something we don’t really believe. We might be saying “I am beautiful, I am loved, I am abundant”….however, our present reality is something completely different to this. So a part of our mind (our inner child) hears us making these statements, and knows they are not true.

This inner conflict (ie. telling ourself something that we don’t yet believe to be true) can often sabotage our affirmations so that they don’t become our reality.

That’s why making a choice is especially powerful. When we make a choice, we clearly acknowledge our present reality. We also clearly acknowledge how we want our reality to be. If you were looking at a table top, you could imagine two upturned cups on it. One is you now, one is you where you dream to be (ie. where you choose to be).

The mere fact that where you are now is not where you choose to be sets up an emotional tension. It’s a yearning, like the way a child would yearn for that puppy in a pet store. It’s like putting a tight rubber band around the two cups on the table.

But which cup will move? It’s easy - if your choice is absolutely clear, ie. if it reflects your unwavering truth of what you choose for your life, then it cannot move. Therefore, in the tension of the rubber band, the cup that represents who you are now is pulled inexorably towards the cup that represents your choice. Voila!

So how do you make a choice that is unwavering?

Firstly, you find the wording that sings to your heart. Remember, this is the antidote to your deepest, most painful wounds. So make sure it’s worded in the positive, and isn’t about “becoming”….it’s about actually being in that final state that you are choosing.

This can take a bit of playing around with the power of words, so let your inner wordsmith come out.

In the example of Sally, her choice may start out as “I choose to be seen by others”. Well, the problem with this is that we can’t make others do anything. So a choice is weakened when it depends on the actions of others. She might then say, “I choose to be loved more and more each day by my family”. Well, again that puts the power outside of herself, requiring someone else to love her….and the “more and more each day” means she’s not claiming the ultimate state.

A choice is usually very elegant in its simplicity, and worded in a way that makes your heart sing.

So Sally may finally reach a choice like this:

“I choose to honour the beauty of my own heart.”

A choice like this would allow Sally to pour love into herself, so that all of her choices come from a place of self love and self respect. This choice will allow her to set clear boundaries with the people around her who have adapted to taking Sally’s acts of kindness for granted.

Once you have your ultimate wording for your choice, you then want to make sure it really does resonate with you. That’s when we go through several questions.

Firstly, go inward, and say your choice to yourself. Then ask these questions:

  • My choice is [and state your choice]. Is this what I want?
  • If I could have it, (ie. if this choice was offered to me, with no strings attached), would I take it? 

If the answer to these two questions is “Yes!”, then go inside, reconnect again with your choice, and then open your eyes and say it out loud. When you do this, there is usually an emotional shift that happens. You might have tears in your eyes, or feel incredibly free, or happy. Watch for that emotional shift.

Step 8: Reconnect with your choice each day

So now, it’s time to put this into practice. Every day, reconnect with your choice, and say it to yourself. There’s no need to ask the extra questions – it’s enough to simply state your choice, and connect with the power of desire within you, wanting that choice to BE your reality.

This process is the most powerful process I’ve ever come across for unravelling and transforming our emotional patterns – the things that bring us distress and pain, anger and heartbreak.

Now, it’s time to watch the magic and evolution happen in your life.

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