A very difficult thing for us to do in life is for us to see our actions and reactions and patterns we repeat without feeling bad about them or judging them. Usually, we go into our habitual reactions to ourselves and we, with feeling and judgment, say things to us like, darn I did it again, or how could I do this, or I am so angry with myself, etc. What if instead we could just notice and without judgment say and feel, oops I did it again?
Being able to see what we are doing and even to be able to joke with us about it is truly a gift to us. When we judge or feel blame or shame we certainly aren't able to change anything. In fact, we make things worse for us and others. Noticing with a distance is a good step towards changing what doesn't work for us any longer.
I was working with a patient recently who was describing how she was getting ready to go out to a meeting which she had mixed feelings about. She wanted to go and knew she needed to get out and connect with others, and she also didn't want to go out that evening, that driving at night is difficult for her, and she had other things she needed to get done that day. Yet she couldn’t allow herself to just not go that evening without doing something which sabotaged her. She found herself getting some food which she knew would make her feel depressed so that then she wouldn't go to her meeting. She saw herself doing this. She knew that is what she was doing.
I asked her who or what this reminded her of in her life growing up. I asked if this was a pattern she saw in her and how long has she noticed this pattern. It reminded her of a bind she always felt with her mother. As a child, she wanted and needed her mother, but in taking her mother it was always at a great cost to her. So she needed her mother and at the same time didn't want her mother. It was a terrible place for her to be in as a child. She yearned for her mom, but at such a great cost. So she became depressed…..what do you do?
Growing up then she often found herself becoming depressed, especially when she wanted to do something and yet found that she couldn't do it. She began to identify with that feeling of depression. It became her, in a way. So here she is as an adult and now she is able to see what she is doing at the time she is doing it. She knows now that when she feels in a bind, instead of learning how to take it apart and see what is best for her, she notices that she does something intentionally to allow her not to go and to be in her familiar place of feeling too depressed to go.
This noticing, the place of the observer, allows her to take a vital next step. It allows her to then make a conscious decision to step out of that old familiar depressed place and instead of making herself feel depressed, to step forward to giving herself the power of just not doing something for her, or doing something for her. She can step aside and leave the old pattern and claim herself in the process. Oh joy, what a great place for her to be in, and any of us to be in. Then we can live the life we are here to live.
Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life
Take yourself on a little trip. Go back in time to see what kind of pattern you find yourself repeating. What pattern do you see yourself doing today that you find that you have done for many years, maybe from the time of a young child?
Close your eyes, and look at yourself from the distance of you being the you that you are right now. As you watch yourself blindly following an old pattern maybe of doing what someone else wants you to do or sabotaging yourself, or whatever, just watch yourself. Now take yourself to the present day. When can you last remember doing the very same thing, or same type of thing? Now, with the same type of distance, see you doing that, and now imagine yourself making a different choice and doing a different response to a person or situation. Take yourself to the feeling level. How does that feel? Take a moment or two and really feel it and breathe it into you. This gives you the power to make a different action to your old triggers and ways of being.