Deja Vu – all over again Negative patterns are sapping your success... Read this and rise up
We’re all creatures of patterns. Good ones. Bad ones. Win seven games, lose nine. Most of us repeat and maintain these patterns throughout our lives and we often do so unconsciously. “From waking to dressing to eating, we’ve learnt to do things a certain way,” says Dr Alan Manevitz, an associate professor or psychiatry at CornellUniversity in the US. “While most of these behaviours are harmless, some can become serious handicaps without our realising it.”
Psychiatrists contend that these patterns are established early in life. “The relationships we had with our siblings and parents largely determine how we interact with the world,” explains Manevitz. “This includes our patterns of loving and choosing partners. Career ambitions are often affected by school and peer experiences.”
But why would be keep repeating a behaviour that didn’t bring positive results? “The answer is because we like the familiar,” advises Dr John Foreyt, Director of the Behavioural-Medicine Research Centre at Baylor College of Medicine in the US. “Our desire to stay within our comfort zone lulls us into cyclical behaviour. Furthermore, since most of us have difficulty seeing our patterns objectively, we often don’t realise we’re caught in them.”
Here are five principles to help break a losing streak and put some wins up on the board.
1. To break a pattern, you must first see the pattern
Here are four of the most common:
Get in shape déjà vu: you’ve tried numerous weight-loss methods over the years, dropping a few kilos but always gaining them back (and then some).
Serial job dissatisfaction: wherever you go, there always seems to be incompetent bosses, uncooperative co-workers or hostile circumstances. Your hopes inevitably dissolve into frustration and argument.
Continuous financial discontent: no matter how much money you make, you never seem to have enough. Your debt is up and your savings are down – exactly the opposite of how it should be.
Repetitive toxic relationships: you’re attracted to the same type of woman – and we don’t mean blondes, brunettes or redheads. For example, maybe it’s the Marriage Seeker, who’s constantly trying to get you to commit; or the Bad Girl who’s exciting but decidedly only a short-term phenomenon; or the Rag Doll, who goes along with anything but is so unchallenging.
If you are still having trouble seeing yourself in these descriptions, here’s a trick to help you focus: as you hold up the mirror to examine yourself, turn it just a bit to look at your parents. Think of five negative patterns you see in Mum and Dad, then pick the ones you are most likely duplicating.
2. You are responsible for your own misfortune
That’s because you have choices. Yes, you’re the one who chooses to be with the woman who hates all of your friends. You’re the one who chooses to stay at a terrible job with a nightmare boss. You’re the one who chooses to overeat. Rather than take responsibility, it’s easier to make excuses or blame others. We’re experts at this.
But if you’re going to break a negative pattern, you must accept responsibility for them. A simple way to do this is by eliminating excuse-oriented language, what’s called the “poor me” trap. (This includes blaming yourself.) For instance:
Instead of saying, “Losing weight is so difficult for me.” Say, “I’m overweight because I eat more kilojoules than I burn each day.”
Instead of saying, “There’s so much to do it’s overwhelming me." Say, “I didn’t prioritise well.”
Instead of saying, “This job is killing me.” Say, “I’m the one choosing to remain here.”
When you put the word “me” at the end of a complaint rather than “I” at the beginning, you confirm passivity and helplessness and allow a negative pattern to continue. Just by using “I” statements like these, you can often begin taking action that will help modify your behaviour in a positive way. You are the actor in your life, not the audience.
Don’t be ashamed of failure. So it’s you who’s been screwing up, not everyone else. Welcome to the club. As Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Failure is a misunderstood and under utilised asset.
Look back on your failures and try to extract one thing that you learned from each. These are the keys to breaking your negative patterns. And for inspiration, consider this man’s resume:
Age 22: Failed at business.
Age 23: Ran for legislature and lost.
Age 24: Failed at another business.
Age 25: Elected to legislature
Age 26: Girlfriend died.
Age 27: Had nervous breakdown
Age 29: Defeated for Speaker of the House
Age 31: Defeated for elector
Age 34: Defeated for Congress
Age 37: Elected to Congress
Age 39: Defeated for Congress
Age 46: Defeated for Senate
Age 47: Defeated for Vice President
Age 49: Defeated for Senate
Age 51: Elected for President
The man is ex-president of the US Abraham Lincoln.
4. If you want to see results, set specific goalsMost men spend more time planning their annual holiday than their lives. If you want to be as happy and content every day as you are for those two weeks at the beach, then you need to approach life just as thoroughly. Instead of saying you want to be fit, successful or in love with a gorgeous woman, you need to map a route for reaching that destination. Let’s say you want to lose 20kg in 12 months. But that isn’t specific enough to act upon. So break it down. You figure that in order to reach this goal, you’ll have to cut 2000kj from your daily diet and start exercising. Suddenly, the insurmountable thing called weight loss becomes more doable. Thirty minutes of jogging, a couple of fewer cans of soft drink…you could do that.
Use this same strategy for planning and reaching all your goals. Pick something bold and inspiring to aim for. Then break it down into detailed steps or sub-steps that will get you there. To run the marathon, you first need to make it to the next telephone pole.
5. Achievement is never an accidentNor is it an unconscious process. Those who realise their goals are continually assessing their progress toward them. To stay on course, use these tricks.
-Practice pro-active behaviour. Focus on what you can do right now to change this part of your life. Instead of leaving it up to chance to send you the ideal woman, make a list of all the things you are looking for – personality type, appearance, financial situation, everything. And only go out with those who fit the criteria.
-Repeat affirmations. These are strong, positive statements outlining something desirable as, in fact, attainable. (“I’m going to nail this interview and secure the job,” or “I’m going to ask her out and she’ll say yes.”) Speak them or think them to yourself. Talk yourself into believing. The effect
Be opportunity ready. In order to achieve, you have to be ready and willing to act. You have to know what you want and when the opportunity presents itself, you have to muster the confidence to follow through. If you don’t break it off with your current girlfriend and realise she represents a negative pattern, you won’t be available to meet the one who will become your wife.
We really are the authors of our own livesand we can write a different outcome than the one we seem destined for. Start by changing just one small thing. You’ll be amazed at the difference.
Another legacy is Psychology "frames", interbehavioral patterns with predictable outcomes that people engage, they become subjective of the frame when all is needed is to face off and break the frame and change the outcome.