A good friend of mine told me she can’t find a partner for a very long time. No matter who she goes out with, she is always “caught” by those troubled guys, who hurt her, exploit her, and leave her in the same place she started.
I’ve been practicing positive thinking for a very long time, and in trying to understand problematic thinking patterns, crack them, and change them in my daily routines. Ever since I started “playing round” with changing thinking patterns, I’ve noticed – much more noticeably – that this kind of conversation with that friend repeats itself: the guys’ names change, but the story is always the same. She finds someone, treats him and herself in a certain way, and the crisis returns. The faces and names change, but the stories are repeated in a kind of fixed pattern, like a vicious circle.
If I take the case of that friend as a case-study for the purpose of this article, you can put on it the pattern I’m about to teach you here and see how that thinking pattern can be disassembled and reassembled.
Step 1: Identify problematic patterns
This is the hardest part because we are all trapped within our own thoughts. It’s very difficult for us to see that we are making mistakes, because we live within-ourselves and for us everything is normal and natural. But the best way to spot problematic behavioral patterns is to notice what is bothering us: a recurring thought (video), something that disturbs our peace and makes it difficult for us to sleep, maybe even something that depresses us. Instead of continuing the endless cycle of negative thoughts, perceiving this moment as an opportunity for growth, a moment where you say to yourself – here’s something that bothers me, now I’m going to perform some inner work with it.
If we go back to the story of my friend, the moment she approached me telling about the new guy who bailed on her – this is the moment when I would start asking myself questions.
Step 2: Start asking questions
The moment you begin to realize that there is a problem here, it’s still not the moment when you realize that there is something related to a problematic thought or behavioral pattern. But here is the first opportunity to start disassembling the jigsaw into small pieces. Here are some questions I would recommend to my friend, and in fact, for any of you to ask yourself:
- Does this case feel familiar to me?
- If so, what was the similarity between this case and another, similar case, that happened to me in the past?
- What prevents me from achieving my goals?
- Why in all those cases do I feel the victim?
- What do I do that allows people to hurt me over and over again?
- Is there anything I can do now that will fix an existing relationship?
As NLP master, Graham Nicholls said in one of his lectures: “There’s a pattern running through their mind, through their body, through their nervous system. There’s a pattern of language, there’s a pattern of where they pay attention. There’s a pattern of what they do with their bodies and their nervous system in everything they’re doing.
So you can take some guesses at what their patterns are going to be but you need to model what their exact pattern is and bring it out of them so that they can see that model.”
By asking the questions, we can help ourselves – and others – understand what patterns we fall into. In my friend’s case, from the questions she realized she was actually putting all of her cards on the table too quickly. She brings in too quickly the guys with whom she’s dating into her home, into her heart, into her life. She realized that once a man gets everything so easly, there is no mystery, there is nothing he has to work for, everything is ready for him on a silver plate. So he got everything he wanted on the first date, and he “can ghost” and swipe on to the next girl.
Step 3: Redesign
Redesign is the moment/step when we have already understood what the problem is, we have realized through asking questions which pattern is repeated over and over again, and now we want to change our behavior and thinking pattern. This stage is challenging for two very obvious reasons. The first, is that people don’t like changes, they have a hard time with changes, it requires them to make a big effort. The second reason – maintenance. It is difficult for people to maintain the new behavior they have just acquired. So many books have been written about it, entire personal growth industries have already made millions just by trying to solve the issue of habit acquisition; and only because it’s an issue that people so crave but fail to persevere.
I’ll cover this topic in other articles on my blog, but for starters it is important for me to get back to the story I started with and show you how possible and feasable this is in your life.
Once my friend realized she was repeating over and over again mistakes she had already made maybe dozens of times in her life; Once she realized that what kept her from finding a serious relationship, true love, a man to marry – this was a formative moment. She understood that a long-term relationship with a partner must have a gradual development. Here are some of the changes she chose to employ to her life:
- She chose to go out with the guy for several dates to see how serious he is about the relationship
- Dating in public places (not home – intimate, not club – noisy), allowed her to ask the new guy questions and get to know him profoundly
- The repeated dates outside her home, allowed her to make the acquaintance gradual, as a kind of evolving story
- The deep conversations with the new guy helped her figure out where she had gone wrong so far
- The meetings outside her home made them talk a lot through messages and phone calls, and slowly forged a love that was the missing element in the puzzle.
As I mentioned earlier, once one understands the problem and how to change it, now the hard part is maintenance. My way of maintaining, or re-programming my mind (video), is through repeating mantras or listening to lectures about the thing I want to change (e.g., lectures about people who made changes in their lives). Without a doubt – positive mantras are a wonderful and easy way to change and reshape the mind through memorization and repetition.
Good luck with changing your thinking patterns!