My copy is 13 years old, and I still refer to it, even to this day, this morning in fact. Synchronicity guides me. I know this, I trust this. (It can for you too if you allow it.) So, it’s no surprise that I read the above passage this morning (while looking for something else) when I knew I wanted to be sharing with you, a most recent opportunity to see an old pattern.
Many of our patterns of thought and behavior are deeply unconscious. It’s easy to say, “well that’s just who I am”, or point a finger at society and say something like, “that’s how we’ve all been raised”. Yes, the collective plays a role and it’s true that over time we can identify more deeply with what we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves. It’s only when we can step outside of ourselves and look objectively, when we can begin to take full responsibility for our lives, that true, honest change can begin. When we can step fully into owning who we currently are, and who we prefer to be.
A few weeks ago, we had a nor ‘easter bearing down on us. I was busy in the kitchen preparing comfort food, hoping we wouldn’t lose power as the winds howled outside. I received a text from a friend and that text included an opportunity that excited me. Within a few minutes my energy shifted, and my focus went from the preheating the oven to how I was going to respond to her. My behavior became erratic, and I noticed stress in my body. That’s when my disciplines of awareness, curiosity, and honesty kicked in. In that moment I became the witness of myself.
My OG thought (my intuition) was to respond later because I needed to cook before the power went out. (It never did, and I really don’t like to cook) I knew I wanted to be more fully present in my response to her, yet this gnawing voice crept in and took over telling me I needed to respond immediately and together, this voice and I, went over all the many ways we could respond. The voice told me that if I didn’t respond right away, and in a way that would make her happy, then I would lose out on the opportunity, and she wouldn’t like me. I had to say the right thing and do it quickly.
I allowed myself to feel the tension and from it, a new awareness was born. The experience gave me a golden opportunity to recognize, and begin to change, a pattern of thought and behavior I’ve been carrying around for the better part of 50 years. I honored the voice by picking up my phone and sending the response of, “Sure!”.
I continued to stay curious as I slipped the eggplant parmesan into the oven.
Life is a 100% mirror reflection of our strongest beliefs, our strongest definitions, and our strongest programming, or conditioning. An event happens and we immediately form a story about it. (Whether positive or negative) Meaning is attached, the feeling forms, and then we “live through” that and respond, react, or behave through that. Here’s the thing … we cannot have a thought, feeling, emotion, behavior, pattern, or experience without the belief, definition, or programming coming first.
Knowing this, I recognized my need to fit in, or feel that sense of belonging in my friendship with her. I unnaturally placed an extreme level of meaning on our friendship, (something I’ve often done in many relationships) and momentarily sacrificed my authenticity for again, that sense of belonging. I didn’t want to upset a member of the tribe by responding later.
I was able to recognize some childhood conditioning which sounded like, “She likes me! She likes me!” (Visualize a little girl jumping up and down) “I have to respond right away!” “I have to do what she wants.” “Why haven’t you responded yet?” “She asked you! You say yes!” “Don’t you dare disappoint her!” “If you don’t respond quickly, she’ll be mad at you!” “I need to be liked.” “The needs and happiness of other people are more important than my own.” “I’m a bad girl if I do it wrong, or if I put my needs first.”
Can you see how I defaulted to a pattern of thought and behavior that is more in line with the values of my inner child?
As I peeled away the top layers, completely aware of the fact that they are simply reinforcing something much deeper, I came to understand my core negative, fear-based belief. I’m not doing anything right. It's not safe to be me.
Event: I received her text.
Meaning attached / feeling forms: She likes me / happiness. I must respond immediately / fear.
(Beliefs come before the meaning or feeling)
Behavior: Dancing in excitement. Erratic nervousness, need to control my environment, projection, worry.
Outcome: Because of this awareness, my outcome was favorable. I found my truth and responded in a way that was more in alignment with the person I prefer to be, not the one driven by fear, negativity, and limitation.
I invite you to give this a try in your life.
Allow yourself to become more present and aware of what is happening in your day and in the events that unfold. Use this technique, and your willingness to change, to help you understand yourself more truly and more deeply. Use this method to know yourself, your True self, from a new perspective so you can move closer to being the person you prefer to be.
Choose to see your old patterns calmly and objectively in your willingness to change and in your intention to set yourself free.
Self-Awareness and Transformational Coach, Inner Child Advocate, and Yin Yoga Teacher.