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 true of human life patterns and habits.
People do almost 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.
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. Great and complex achievements in art, knowledge, leadership, and innovation are all made possible as a result of the establishment of basic positive patterns. Shakespeare could not have written his works if he had not learned how to write basic letters on paper.
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 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, there a hidden factors that get in the way of changing patterns. It may not be easy, for example, to make healthy choices in eating, when there is a hidden or subconscious source of unresolved, patterned 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 can be 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. Since they simply take the patterns of what they think, do, and say for granted, no real improvement is possible.
How to Change Life Patterns
To change our patterns, we need to take an intelligent look at what we are doing. And we may also need to look at what is subconscious and not understood as well as what is conscious and understood. At certain times in life, there can be clear benefit in having some assistance from someone who can help to show us aspects of our personal patterns that we may not be able to clearly see ourselves. A good therapist knows how to recognize patterns, and knows how to help people to see what they cannot ordinarily see. This provides a tool for the client to help create change. It helps the client make different choices and create new and different patterns. These new patterns can be 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 people to understand who they are in a better way. They can help people to live life more fully and find a greater sense of meaning and purpose. They can help make life less an experience of suffering and 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 easier. Instead of feeling like we are trapped in an endless cycle of futility, we can feel more like we are making progress, moving forward with a clear sense of purpose to a brighter destination.