I’ve noticed it takes at least 7 times to see a pattern in my life that I want to change. I get into the same kind of situation and say, “How did this happen again?!” Then at time seven, (maybe more!), I start to change it. That’s a lot of time later.
I finally figured out how to change those patterns quicker. You can use this idea in dating, work, friendship, family, with your own thoughts, you name it.
Here’s the gist: Figure out which emotion sucks you in to the pattern. Notice what the emotion cues you to do. Then choose another emotion that you prefer.
I’ll give you an example. I used to end up confused in many kinds of relationships. I couldn’t understand why it kept happening and was frustrated. But as I see it now, it was a pattern I was just used to. It motivated me to act urgently. I’d spend a lot of time and energy figuring out how to respond and would be in adrenalin spikes all day long. It didn’t feel good necessarily but it was automatic. I thought I could change the pattern by being aware that it was a pattern. I thought I could change it with thought, like affirmations. I needed to change it on an emotional level.
One day, I discovered clarity was an even better feeling. Freeing. Authentic. Powerful. In comparison, I could see that confusion made me feel disappointed, frustrated, anxious, and tired. Clarity felt way more satisfying and fantastic than confusion.
The next time I felt confusion, instead of it cueing me to do what I used to do (spending all that time wrapped up in it), it would cue me to communicate with the person right away to clear things up. (Voice to voice or in person, not via text, please. Read No Premarital Text if you don’t know why.) If the confusion was chronic with someone, I simply wasn’t interested anymore. It wasn’t appealing. It wasn’t attractive. So I didn’t attract that anymore. The spell was broken.
Our brains seek out patterns. Patterns are reliable. They’re safe, secure and predictable. Even if they’re dysfunctional patterns, they’re familiar. Familiar Misery, I call it.
I changed my emotional priority. It felt better to be clear than confused. So different actions quickly followed the cue and my brain started a new and improved pattern seeking out clarity instead of confusion.
So, for whatever pattern or habit you want to change, you need an emotion you prefer.
You might be asking: But how do I make another emotion more desirable if I’ve never felt it before?
I might be answering: Great question! You just need a reference.
Since I’ve been experimenting with this idea, I noticed that there are experiences all over the place that bring up opposite emotions. There’ll be someone I interact with where I feel valued, then someone I interact with where I feel like I have to work hard to be myself. When I pay attention I can see how different the feelings between the two are and what they make me do. In one I thrive, in the other I’m tired. Now I can walk away from the situation that makes me tired or adjust how I react to that person because I know what that feeling means to me.
If you have a friend that makes you feel like your best self, use that as a reference. If you like how you felt when you were last doing your favorite hobby, or if you had a fantastic experience at your job recently, use that.
Figuring out what you want also makes things clearer and helps break an old pattern. Take a look at How To Get What You Want… Faster for inspiration.
Last but not least, make new associations. Attaching better emotions to an old experience changes it. For more on the “association” idea, check out Don’t Face Your Fears, Use Your Toe and Turn You To Do Into To Done.
See the old emotional cue as unattractive and another feeling as more attractive. Then let’s see if the emotions we find attractive attract situations, people, experiences, and blog posts ; ) to us.