Almost all of us have patterns in our lives, recurring problems that discourage us, make us feel stuck, and steal our motivation to keep trying.
But the good news is, those limiting patterns can be replaced by new patterns that bring you joy and success – if you know how.
Today, I’m going to reveal how I got stuck in a pattern of repeating problems without even realizing it, how I escaped that cycle of struggle, and how you can, too.
About a year ago, I was lonely and exhausted.
I wanted to have more friendship in my life, and a partner to share my life with. But my social circle was very small, and it seemed like everyone who was willing to spend any significant amount of time with me did so largely because they needed me.
I desired companionship, but being around people drained my energy. I longed to feel supported, but I was giving more than I got, and I didn’t feel like I could lean on anyone. It felt like a hopeless catch-22.
Then, one day, I stopped to assess the situation, and took the time to ask myself why this kept happening.
It would have been easy to blame it on other people. I could have said, “I don’t feel supported because nobody’s strong and steady enough to support me”, or “I don’t have many friends because people don’t want to be around me”.
But I’d done enough work on my own self-growth to know that when there’s a consistent pattern in my life, the common denominator is me.
It was time to determine how I was contributing to this pattern.
So I took a closer look at what I had to work with, and what I was doing with it. And when I did, I realized that I had at least three friends with whom I could interact regularly. Two of them were people I could lean on for support, and the third needed a lot of support from me.
Guess which one I was making the most time for?
Are you doing the same thing in your life?
Right now, I’d like you to ask yourself: “Is there a problem that keeps showing up in my life, or something good that I desire but can’t seem to create no matter how hard I try?”
If the answer is “yes,” here are some steps you can take to start shifting that pattern and changing your results, today:
Step 1: Notice what the pattern is.
Very often, we can get so busy that we aren’t sure why we feel uninspired, unmotivated and unfulfilled. There’s an emptiness, tiredness or discontent weighing on the backs of our minds, but we don’t prioritize ourselves enough to take the time to identify what’s bothering us.
I would like you to give yourself permission to take that time right now, before you finish reading this article. Identify a persistent problem you want to solve, or a blessing you want that’s always stayed out of reach.
Step 2: Take stock of what’s available to you, and how you’re responding to it.
If you want more or closer friends, or a romantic partner, or better business contacts, make a list of the places you frequent and the people with whom you spend time. Are the people you seek likely to be found in those social circles?
If they are, how much time and effort are you putting toward cultivating those relationships? And if they aren’t, is it time to start redirecting some of your socializing time to places and social groups where you’re more likely to meet the right people?
If you want more time, make a list of the things on which you’re currently spending your time. How many of them are truly necessary? Which ones could be done more efficiently if you had better tools, delegated to someone else, or simply removed if they aren’t adding anything to your life?
Whatever it is that you want to change, list the opportunities you currently have, as well as the things that are holding you back, and the ways in which you are responding to those opportunities and obstacles.
You may be surprised to realize how much you have to work with, and how easy it is to take the next step now that you’ve taken the time to identify that step.
Step 3: Notice the emotions behind your reactions.
When the same problem repeatedly shows up in your life, it isn’t usually just because you have a bad habit. There’s pretty much always an emotional wound that created the habit, and that wound will just keep creating new habits to replace the old ones until it is found and healed.
My experience with friendship is a perfect example of this.
I spent most of my childhood struggling to make and keep friends. Because of this, I developed a subconscious belief that I wouldn’t be wanted or loved unless I was needed.
Consciously, I told myself that I was a great friend and a great catch, and on the surface, I believed it. But on a deeper emotional level, I felt like I needed to be needed, or else I’d be alone.
Because of this, I reflexively sought out people who needed me, and I avoided needing or leaning on other people lest I be a burden.
I want you to make note of that: even when my circumstances were conducive to success, my subconscious beliefs overrode my circumstances to create failure.
But the opposite can also be true: when your circumstances are conducive to failure, your subconscious beliefs can help you succeed.
Because of this, it’s absolutely vital to identify the emotional needs, wounds and beliefs behind your behavior.
How does continuing to have this problem serve you? Did you struggle with this problem as a child, and does struggling with it now give you a ‘second chance’ to succeed where you once failed?
Does the success you want feel scary and unfamiliar, while your present situation is comfortably familiar?
Does your problem meet a need, like the need to be needed, that is born out of past pain or fear?
When you discover the emotional root of your problem, you take the most important step toward solving that problem once and for all.
Step 4: Make a concrete plan to take the next step.
What is one action step you can take this week to change the external patterns that are perpetuating your problem?
It could be seeking a new social group, calling a client you’ve wanted to try to enroll for a while, or listing the tasks you need to delegate. Whatever it is, set a date and time on your calendar when you’re going to do it, and commit to it.
For example, I made a commitment to start spending more time with the friends I could lean on, and to reduce the amount of time I spent with my needy friend. I also set firmer boundaries around how much support I was able and willing to give her, and where I needed to draw the line to protect my own energy.
My relationships with all three of them have been better for it, and I’ve experienced more energy and less loneliness ever since.
To increase the chances that you’ll follow through with your plan, tell someone you trust about this commitment, and ask if you can report back to them on the day when you’re supposed to have completed it. This helps prevent you from getting cold feet, or from letting your commitment slip if the day gets busy.
Also, what is one action step you can take to deal with your internal pattern?
If you already have a process in your life for rewiring subconscious patterns and beliefs, apply it to this newly discovered pattern.
If not, is there a therapist or counselor you trust? A meditative or visualization practice you prefer? Find the method for changing your subconscious beliefs that works best for you, and stick with it until you get results.
Don’t give up if you don’t see changes right away; long-standing patterns can take time to break, but the results are well worth it.
P.S. Do you want to upgrade your brain and break limiting mental patterns?
The way we think about the world affects our experience in it — for good or for bad. Vishen Lakhiani’s transformational course, Consciousness Engineering, allows you to challenge old ways of thinking and adopt new models of reality.