You’ve been here before. You are sitting on the edge of your bed, wondering how you got this way. This wasn’t the life you imagined for yourself. You figured surely you would be married with childre and working at a boring job you only sort of hated by now. Instead, you’re living at home and unemployed. This isn’t the first time you’ve found yourself here in this same position, literally and figuratively. You’ve been stuck in this pattern for years. You try to move forward but inevitably find yourself right back where you started.
Sound familiar? Even if you aren’t in the exact same situation, many people can relate to the idea of feeling stuck. People find themselves stagnated for a variety of reasions, including that they are caught up in unhealthy patterns of behavior. People may not even be aware of the unhealthy things they are repeatedly do to themselves. By continuing to engage in these maladaptive behavioral patterns, they ensure that no matter how hard they try they will never accomplish the goals they want for themselves.
Sounds pretty dire, right? Thankfully, if any of this rings true for you, you are not hopeless. Breaking through unhealthy behavior patterns is difficult, but not impossible. It can be extremely hard to change things that may be so embedded and a part of you. You may have learned these reactions or behaviors from a young age. You may have had extremely traumatic experiences that influence your views or perception of the world. You may struggle with severe and persistent mental or physical illness making it difficult to engage in certain activies or do things. No matter the barriers, while change is very hard it is doable.
The first step to breaking unhealthy patterns is to acknowledge that the behaviors you are engaging in are acting as barriers to your growth and moving forward. This can be easier said than done. Sometimes patterns of behavior are so engrained in us that we are not even noticing them. These patterns are often deeper than constantly forgetting to set your alarm or skipping meals. In fact, they typically involve a string of choices and mindsets strung together over a period of time. For example, maybe you learned from a young age not to talk about your feelings. As a result, you tend to ignore not just big emotional upsets (deaths, job loss, etc.) but also small things (getting cut off in traffic, a rude email from a co-worker). Over time these large and smaller triggers build up and eventually you explode at someone unnecessarily. Despite being unhappy and knowing something isn’t right, we may not always know why. It may not be until someone else points it out to us that we even have an opportunity to consider the possibility of the pattern. Also, part of us may also not want to acknowledge the behavior pattern. As horrible and upsetting as our lives may be in their current state, change is scary, requires hard work, and a level of vulnerability and trust that things can be different. We may not like that we explode angrily at people we love, but the idea of having to work through past trauma and share our emotions with others in the moment may feel impossible and we may be ambivalent around being that vulnerable with someone.
As upsetting as acknowledging our maladaptive patterns might be, we must do so in order to be able to make progress and move forward with our lives. Sometimes with the help of a therapist, we can get the support we need to acknowledge and work through bigger behavioral patterns getting in our way.
Want help in figuring out what patterns you are stuck in that are causing you to stagnate? Call 646-653-4397 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
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