Everything in the universe moves in patterns. Planets revolve around stars in patterns. The tilt of the earth creates seasons that change according to patterns. The rivers and streams flow in patterns. The days, weeks, months, and years all pass in patterned cycles. The same is applied to your life patterns and habits.
People also do everything according to patterns. They work, eat, sleep, move, and think according to certain patterns. The tendency to do things according to patterns is natural and can be seen in all people. Patterns can be changed, and, to a certain extent they do change in small and subtle ways over the course of life in every person, but every life is largely influenced and determined by patterns.
Breaking Down Life Patterns
The natural human tendency to develop patterns can be useful. Simple actions like walking or driving or reading are actually very complex behaviors, and learning them over and over again on a daily basis would make everyday life almost impossible. Positive patterns of learning and thinking are at the heart of every great creative human achievement. Great and complex achievements in art, knowledge, leadership, and innovation are all made possible by positive life patterns.
Although our human tendency to develop patterns of thinking and action can help to enable us to do very useful and advanced creative things, it can also limit us. We can develop “bad habits”. We can eat unhealthy food, live or work in a toxic environment, and think and act in a very limited or ignorant way. When we do these things over and over again, we can be our own worst enemy. We can create physical, emotional, and psychological problems for ourselves, and we can live lives of misery, pain, and meaninglessness as a result. Trapped in these patterns, we may not even see the possibility of a way out.
(For more on healing and forgiveness, check out Dolph Lundgren’s TED Talk.)
Sometimes, changing unhealthy or limited patterns is a simple thing. It may not be easy, for example, to make healthy choices in eating, but learning what is healthy and what is not healthy is not exceptionally difficult, and, once a source of healthier foods is found, it is not overly complicated to avoid what is not healthy and choose what is, unless there is a hidden source of unresolved emotional pain that causes us to eat compulsively in an unhealthy way.
There are virtually always some hidden factors that lead us to think and act the way that we do. Everyone has subconscious memories that strongly influence the patterns of their thinking and behavior. Some of these memories are positive, and the patterns that they are associated are then also positive, or mostly positive. But some of these patterns are associated with fear, trauma, or negative emotional influences. When this is the case, patterns of negative thought and behavior can emerge that can lead to highly negative results in our lives. Depression, anxiety, addiction, and a sense of alienation or meaninglessness have many different kinds of emotional causes, but they are all the same in a certain sense. They are all connected to patterns of thinking that become associated with patterns of behavior. They create a prison of sorts for people and an ongoing cycle of suffering and negativity.
Some people live their lives according to certain set patterns more or less from birth to death. They do not really think of changing how they think and act. They usually have some positive qualities and aspects of their lives, but, to anyone who observes what these people are doing thoughtfully, it seems that there is something missing. The world is full of problems, in a general sense, and also in an individual sense. The problems in the world are the result of human choices and actions, The only way that the world can ever be improved is if the choices and the thinking that drive the choices is changed and improved. But, if people never think about changing the patterns of the way they think and act, then no real improvement is possible. We will all end up like hamsters on a wheel that spins forever, making no real progress toward anything. Individual people will go through the patterned cycle from birth to death over the course of time, but the basic nature of the world at large will not get any better as time passes.
How to Change Life Patterns
To change our patterns, we need to take an intelligent look at what we are doing. And at certain times in life, we can all benefit from having some assistance from someone who can show us aspects of our personal patterns that we may not even be able to clearly see ourselves. The real value of therapy is that it brings things to light that any client may not fully be aware of. A good therapist is someone who knows how to recognize patterns, and who knows how to help reveal them to the person that he or she works with. This provides a tool for the client to help create change in his or her life. It helps the client make different choices and create new and different patterns. These new patterns can be much healthier in a physical and psychological sense. They can eliminate compulsive negative behaviors and ways of thinking. They can help to give life a new sense of meaning and purpose. They can help the client to understand who he or she really is in a much better way. They can help the client to live life more fully and find a greater sense of meaning and purpose. They can help make life much less an experience of suffering and much more an experience of peace and fulfillment.
If we can understand our patterns and bring to the surface those things that are hidden, change becomes much easier. Instead of feeling like a hamster on a wheel, we can feel more like a person traveling toward the light at the end of a tunnel, where things get brighter and everything makes more sense with each step forward that we take.