If you’re feeling stuck in old, negative patterns and limited thinking, life coaching can help you to break through to set and achieve new personal growth goals.
“Almost all painful feelings have their source in an incorrect way of looking at reality. When you uproot erroneous views, suffering ceases.”
— The Buddha, as written by Thich Nhat Hanh
How do you stop negative patterns of behavior and limited thinking?
First, you have to be open to looking deeply at yourself and identifying your default behavior patterns. We all have them, those automatic or rote behaviors we fall into without even thinking.
In our formative years, we learn ways of behaving to navigate our family environment. These learned behavior patterns can serve us well in childhood and through the teenage years, but they may hold us back from living our full potential in adulthood.
Here are a few examples of default behavior patterns:
You don’t say what you want or need. You’re a fourth child in a family with extrovert siblings all dominating the speaking time. Early on, you find the way to navigate your family environment is to stay quiet and carefully pick and choose the times you can say what you want. The rest of the time you carefully find your way through the maze of extroverts. This may lead you to be super careful as an adult and almost never express your wants or needs. That’s fine, but this way of being could keep you from getting what you fully desire in your personal and professional life. Once you see this pattern of carefully holding back your desires and needs, you may decode you want to break through and change that way of being to become more spontaneous and expressive of your needs and feelings.
Other people always come first. Your father was severely physically challenged. As a child you learned you must take care of the caregiver. You learn to think of your father’s physical and emotional needs before your own. Therefore, you grew up with a sense of super-responsibility. This responsible way of being is, of course, commendable – more people should have a sense of empathy and responsibility to others. However, in this case your strong suits of being caring and super-responsible have been engrained in you to such a strong degree that you’ve learned to put your needs last. The negative pattern of behavior you’ve learned is that your needs don’t count at all. So, as an adult, your tendency –your default pattern of behavior – is take care of others first (in your family, on your team at work, your friends) and neglect your needs. It may be so strong that you don’t even recognize your own needs and wants.
You’re never good enough. You were raised by a rather distant, emotionally removed, yet demanding and judgmental parent. She/he was always demanding more of you, yet never gave praise or appreciation. As with most kids, you sought her/his approval so much so that you developed a pattern of behavior to always perform for the approval you lived for. No matter what you did, it was never enough. You internalized that to mean, “you’re not enough, never good enough.” This parent / child pattern led you to be a performer, always doing, doing, doing for the approval and self esteem that never seemed to manifest.
These examples are just a few of the almost infinite patterns of behavior we learn as we grow from childhood into adolescence and adulthood. Those patterns that persist can sometimes become “baked-in” as our default ways of being.
Can we break through these harmful learned behaviors? Yes – indeed we can transform our learned / rote / default patterns of behavior. However, it takes focus and effort. If we take the time to look within, starting by taking a personal inventory of our behavior patterns, we can transform.
According to Preston Ni, M.S.B.A., in his article featured in Psychology Today, “We should learn from the past, but not be stuck in it. Sometimes life circumstances and personal setbacks can haunt and prevent us from seeing our true potential and recognizing new opportunities. What has already happened we cannot change, but what is yet to happen we can shape and influence. At times the first step is simply to break from the past and declare that it is you, not your history, who’s in charge. Goethe reminds us: ‘Nothing is worth more than this day.’ Don’t dwell on the past. Make better choices today and move on.”
Working with a counselor or life coach can be a great way to explore the possibilities of changing / breaking old patterns of behavior that are holding you back from reaching your full potential. It takes commitment, focus and work. But remember, although it takes effort, it can also be exhilarating, productive, liberating, and even fun.
Take it on. Get on with it. Break through and get un-stuck.