Much has happened in the past few years, and as I have been looking back and reflecting on all the events that have occurred, lessons I’ve learned, thinking about where to start with my blog, the major, overall theme that jumps out at me is patterns. I can categorize nearly everything into a pattern of some sort, things that have happened before might have had different forms, different faces, different details – but the underlying story is the same.
As human beings, we are all creatures of habit, and thus we all have patterns and certain ways of doing and thinking about things. Our patterns are formed when we are babies and throughout early childhood, when our impressions about the world and the way things work and who we are are being created and solidified. Habits are often passed down from generation to generation, as our early habits are formed through our interactions with our caretakers – our families. Children in families grow up to have their own children, and they pass down the same habits to them – and so it goes. These habits are mostly unconscious, yet deeply ingrained and rarely challenged. Everyone around us behaves a certain way, and that becomes our ‘normal’. In our minds, this is how the world operates. Those who don’t operate in the same way are seen as outside the norm and strange. Some of us may dismiss those people and not take the time to consider why they behave the way they do; we don’t give them any importance and simply forget about them and move on. When we don’t allow ourselves the time to reflect on the basis for the behaviors of others, we cut off any opportunity for growth and positive change in ourselves. We stay stuck in our ingrained, unconscious habits and patterns, and continue to encounter the same problems, the same difficulties, the same people, our entire lives. Nothing will ever change. We keep thinking if only this person would stop doing that, if only people could understand me, if only the world weren’t so messed up, if only other people didn’t have all these problems… But the truth is, when everyone and everything around us is flawed and problematic, the reality is that the problem lies in YOU. If, for instance, you find yourself always ending up in relationships with people who treat you badly and don’t respect you, the problem is not them. The one thing all these relationships have in common – is YOU. The question you must ask yourself is not what is wrong with them, but instead, what is wrong with me? What is wrong with me for allowing and tolerating such behavior? For not standing up for myself early on and walking away when the red flags first began popping up? Why did I continue to hang on? Why do I not believe that I deserve better? And on and on the questions go. It is in this kind of reflection, reflection about the self, that change can occur and we can truly begin taking steps to stopping unhealthy patterns once and for all. We must stop looking at others, and start looking inside.
It is sometimes said that like attracts like. It is also sometimes said that opposites attract. But, the truth is that neither are really the case. Newton’s law states it best: for every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction. What that means is, whatever you put out there will attract its match in return. If you have low self-worth and don’t believe you deserve to be treated well, that is exactly what you will get. You will get others who don’t think highly of you and who will not treat you well. Your psychological and energetic state will draw in your match. When relationships fail, the last thing to cross our minds is that we were well-matched… but the truth is, you were. You were the exact match for each other at that point in time; the matching piece of the puzzle. A good match doesn’t equate a healthy match; it simply means two people fit the needs of the other, healthy or unhealthy, conscious or unconscious. One thing I’ve heard therapists and life coaches often say is that relationships are a dance. It takes two, and each of you dances in a specific pattern that fits exactly the pattern in which the other person dances. It is not an identical dance, you are not doing the exact same moves at the same time for the same reasons – rather, it is a symbiotic, complementary dance. And then relationships fail because one partner changes and the dance no longer works; it falls apart. Relationships also fail if one partner becomes aware of the dysfunction and no longer wants to continue in it. However, too often that person does not look at their role in the dysfunction, and continues on with the same patterns and will eventually end up in yet another dysfunctional relationship. That particular partner changed, but the patterns – the source of the dysfunction – did not. That is not to say we should continue on in dysfunctional relationships or continue to tolerate inappropriate, disrespectful, or abusive behavior. Rather, we should look inward to work on changing our internal patterns, and the relationship will reveal itself and work out in the way that it is meant to.
Now that I’ve begun to take a critical look at myself and my life and have seen the clear patterns neatly tying everything together, I am astounded at how obvious it was all this time – and yet I never saw it. I was too stuck in them; they were so deeply ingrained and a part of what I thought “normal” was that I never once questioned them; I never took a step back and really examined my patterns and habits. It’s also amazing that now, after discovering this about myself, how clearly I can see the issues of others all around me. It all comes down to patterns that were imprinted upon us during childhood. So simple… and yet, the hardest part is seeing our own patterns, seeing ourselves as we truly are, and our central role in the problems that plague us.