Have you ever noticed the pattern of how easily we respond with “I’m ok” or “I’m good” without actually checking in? Maybe this is a result of our culture, how fast paced the world can be. But I wonder, could it be that we’ve forgotten to trust ourselves first? Or are we simply telling the world that we’ve got it all together despite all we are facing? Maybe we have simply gotten so used to “pushing through” things that we have neglected that we still have feelings and needs. Either way I’m recognizing how often I use these words, and reflecting on how often they are the truth.
You’ve likely heard that our words have power. I like to think of this like a growing flower. As we first plant an idea we take time to help it root, we use the best soil to help it become secure. Then we water it to help it grow. As the wind comes to challenge our idea, we add protection to it. And over time our idea builds strong roots, strength in it’s core and starts to find new growth based on that idea. As the years go on we enjoy the phases of our belief from the budding, flowering and especially through the ripening.
But what if our belief or idea is more like a dangerous weed? You see, we plant those the same way. We care for and protect them the same way. The difference is that they tend to find their strength before we even see the difference. The power these words, beliefs and values have can over take the roots of others that are less powerful.
Recognizing the pattern
I have seen this pattern in myself and my clients so many times. They are based in our experiences, moments that align us with a belief about the world or ourselves. We then view everything we see and face through the lens of that belief. In this most recent instance this belief began in my childhood. There was so much happening around me I would make myself small to hold space for others. As the years went on what was a conscious choice turned into a natural ingrained reaction. The choice that I am then faced with now is to face my pattern or allow it to choose my fate. If you’ve learned anything about me by now you’ll know I’m gently leaning in.
In a recent experience of recognizing my pattern I had spent 6 weeks with my body had been telling me that something was wrong. It was a subtle voice throughout the day easily waved off like an annoying mosquito. When my loved ones around me would comment, I would assure them all was ok.
It isn’t like I ignored the first signs, I saw them and did a small amount of inquiry into what was happening. I was told it was normal, not to worry, so I did just that. In that moment I had allowed the voice of others to outweigh what my body was communicating. No matter what their intent, mine was clear I was telling my body I wasn’t listening.
So how do we change the pattern?
Before you can change something you need to understand it, it’s kind of like your going on a first date. You’re curious, you want to gently learn all you need to know about this pattern to find out if you want it in your life. As in all first dates, we find ourselves leaning in gently and getting to know each other. And to protect ourselves from bad relationships it’s good to come prepared with a few questions that help us check compatibility. Here are some of my favorite questions;
- How does it treat others?
- How well does it know it’s surroundings?
- What influence does it have over me?
- What are it’s highest intentions?
- Is there another way to gain the benefit of those intentions?
Going on a second date?
Now that we know if we want a second date or not, we have to decide how to communicate this. Is it s simple as no longer reaching out, a conversation about where this relationship is supportive and when we will visit or does it require a full on break up. So how do you know?
- If this is a new belief it is more easily put down. You can look at it and find a more helpful and supportive belief. A good example of how we do this is when we meet someone for a second time and notice that we feel differently about them. We see or hear something new from them that allows us to quickly right our beliefs.
- Then we have the patterns that help us, but maybe we use too often. So if we can figure out when to use it and when not to we will have more freedom to enjoy life with and without it. A good example of this is preparing for an activity, I would spend a lot more time on safety if I was going to go skydiving than say going for a hike. Often we have designed our patterns out of keeping us safe in an experience we faced. Then when facing a new experience we look for the pattern that most closely matches this new experience and apply it. This can prevent us from fully enjoying an experience.
- Hardest of all is looking for those patterns that no longer serve us and removing them from our toolbox. I have found the most gentle way is to acknowledge why the tool/pattern/belief was built in the first place. This is a really important piece of the puzzle! You see, before letting something go understanding why you have it to begin with allows recognition that it is no longer needed. It also allows awareness of using it out of comfort vs it being the right tool in our toolbox. Now I’m not going to say that’s all there is to it. But I do find that without this step the attachment remains and we continue to go back to it.