For the third day in a row, I notice that it’s 2 a.m., and I’m still working. There have been no breaks for exercise or time outside. While it may look as though I’ve adopted a certain pattern of behavior, what actually is happening is that I’ve defaulted into a pattern of Being.
I have an always-on, forever-desire for freedom. As such, my pattern is to store up weeks of work, then tackle it in a single night. An unstable childhood taught me how to gather everything important to me in a vice grip to manage for my survival. This instinct still comes up when I’m scared, and nothing scares me more than a threat to my freedom. Once activated, it triggers a series of unhealthy behaviors, such as eating weird, sleeping weird, and getting annoyed with my kids asking for – How dare they? – dinner.
In order to break this pattern of being – or any pattern – you need to start by noticing the internal machinery. Think about what it feels like in your body when you’re behaving in the ways that activate this state of being? What feelings start the patterned behaviors in motion? How is this different from when you are out of that pattern and more at ease?
When I have this much work to do, it’s like walls closing in on my freedom. It feels as though the work in front of me extends past my line of sight, and like a trapped animal, I just start digging my way out. In this state I have no clear thoughts, no perspective, and no care for my well-being. It feels like a fire in my solar plexus, a rushing in my heart, even a slight headache, as though I am trying to pour my brain into a single point on my forehead.
But when I don’t have deadlines or piles of work infringing upon my freedom, I feel a sense of ease and relaxation. I can do what feels like the next right thing. There’s a spontaneity throughout the day in my movements, both physically and emotionally. I can breathe.
Components of a Pattern
Undoing the Pattern
Consider what aspects of your life reinforce this pattern in your life. Can you remove them or temporarily change them? Let’s revisit the components and see what that might look like.
I can ensure that I have an unscheduled day every week. I can sit with my feeling of fear and meet it with compassion, rather than putting it to work.
Creating a New Pattern
Consider what it is that you do want to be habitual. Is there a way you wish your pattern of being to be? Take these steps to reconfigure your way of being.