Step 4 - Recognise and question behavioural patterns
Over the next few months, I'll be basing my articles on this "12 Steps to Happiness" post. After you've done the exercise of getting to know yourself as described for example in this post, which behaviours do you find yourself regretting most often? Is there something that always gets you angry, upset or sad? Do you have routines or activities that have nothing to do with religious chores or obsessive-compulsive disorders? Are there people that just seem to rub you the wrong way?
Periodically, I find it helpful to look at life, where it's at, where it appears to be going, and how it got here in the first place. Behaviours and feelings play a great part in that equation. It is generally safe to say that we base most of our early behavioural learning on imitating our parents, as they are the first role-models children have. Without questioning or looking for rhyme nor reason, many adults repeat the patterns they learned in their childhood. Children of alcoholics, aggressive, or overly protective parents often follow in those same footsteps, and become challenged in similar ways when they reach adulthood. It makes sense to them because that is what they learned and grew up with. If it was good enough for them, why shouldn't it be good enough for their own children?
Well, because times change. At one point, everybody thought the world was flat, nobody except a handful of engineers ever imagined the world wide web would be useful, let's not even get into the butter vs. margarine discussion, and plenty people thought it was alright to physically chastise kids until a couple of decades ago. What are you doing today that is based on what you learned as a child?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you to throw all that out of the window and make a 180º turn, just take the time to look at what you're doing and if it's really still helpful in your endeavours. In order to do get prepared for a change, and to make peace with your learning, it is important to make yourself aware of the positive aspects that your behaviours have. How did they serve your needs? How did they help you? What did they protect you from? Are those positive reasons still valid, or could they be replaced by something a little more up-to-date? For example, if it used to be fun to date around and be single, but lately you're feeling kind of lonely, could it mean you're ready to settle down? Would it make sense to go looking for potential partners in different places?
Stop doing things the way you always do them because that's how you've always done them. It's madness to expect a different outcome if you're not changing the process.
Til next time!