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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Experiment - Undo Monkey See Monkey Do

Life is about planning.  Planning for our freedom and our future. Rewriting our histories and taking control of our universal deck of cards.  This experiment will be different for everyone.   For me.  I am going to focus on my current biggest struggle.  A healthy long lasting relationship.  For you? Well, it will be whatever you need it to be.
What if it is possible that we pick up on the energy around us before we are born? I have spent my life knowing that my mother was not capable of having a relationship with me. I in turn got involved with men that were emotionally unavailable. And this whole time I have looked back on my life and wondered about these relationships. In my search for the answers I have had many interesting epiphanies.
Years ago I did a retreat called the Hoffman Quadrinity Process.  It really helped me make leaps and bounds on my road to abusive recovery.   One of the exercises we had to complete was to take stock of the patterns we were expressing and figure out where they came from. 
This exercise helped me come to terms with my unhealthy relationship with my patterns.  Awareness is a great starting point for mending the connections and replacing the patterns with healthy habits.
Have you ever done something and afterwards thought, “What the hell was I thinking?” I am sure we have all had these moments and more than once in our lifetime. I call these the “puzzling things I do” moments.
Let’s make a list of these. We are going to call these moments “the patterns” and these are the patterns that we acquired, most likely, from our parents.
There are three ways that we deal with patterns. 
1. We take the pattern on as if it were our own. 
2. We rebel against the pattern 
3. We create the pattern in our lives from an outside source.
I am guilty of engaging in all three of these pattern forms. But now I am choosing to look at them more clearly. What role have they played in my life? How have they kept me stuck?
The circumstances surrounding my birth created many issues not just one.   I finally realized the answers to these life lessons by taking responsibility for who I was. I spent my life saying that I was attracted to unavailable men because my mother was emotionally unavailable. But then I realized something. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was me that has always been emotionally unavailable. When I looked back at my actual dating patterns there were men that wanted to spend the rest of their lives with me but I was the one that left the relationship (sometimes very abruptly and without explanation). Those relationships blend into my life like the many friendships that didn’t last.
As I got older I realized that I stayed in relationships that weren’t conducive to bringing out the best in each other. I fell for guys that lived far away, or had their own issues of not being available, or just weren’t into me. The always wanting what we can’t have syndrome. Then one day you wake up and this model doesn’t work anymore. And you go over it again and again and try to figure out the whys of it all.
One day while talking to a girlfriend with the same patterns, it hit me. I am the one living on a low relationship vibration pattern and the only way to stop attracting these relationships is to lift myself above the energy field of unavailability.
But how do I do this? By separating myself from what I witnessed in childhood. I have spent my life in relationship transference. Because my mother was left feeling constantly berated I sought out situations that mirrored what I knew. How could I not? I didn’t know any different or any better.
This is a journey that won’t create change overnight. That is why I am calling it a journey. It will take commitment and endurance and faith that it doesn’t have to be this way. If your mother fell in love with an alcoholic doesn’t mean that you have to. If your mom and dad were verbally abusive, doesn’t mean that you and your spouse can’t show love and affection and be verbally complimentary.
The key is going to be honesty. You have to be honest with yourself and be accountable.  What part are you playing in your own life? I mentioned that another way we handle patterns is to rebel against it.  Case in point. I grew up not being held, coddled, or shown affection. I have turned out to be one of the mushiest, most affectionate and verbally complimentary people I know. It’s actually one of my favorite things about me. But the glitch in this plan has been that the guys I have been with have not been verbally complimentary at all. It was all I ever wanted and yet because I didn’t “know it” I couldn’t have it.   I would always constantly be “needing” something from the other person. Just like I had done my whole life with my mother.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Some awareness and a conscious effort is the starting point for letting go of the patterns and not living in transference anymore. For starters we never have to look outside ourselves for recognition. The key to a happy and fulfilled life lived in the present starts from within. The best way to separate yourself from the past is to figure out where you are now in this moment. With yourself, your relationships, your career.
We will tackle each pattern one at a time. I told you, this is going to be a commitment. But aren’t you worth it?
One of the definitions for pattern is “an example for others to follow”. Our parents didn’t realize that they were setting these examples any more than their parents knew. A pattern is a habit. And habits were meant to be broken.
The best way to improve upon a habit is to replace it with a more valuable counterpart. And the easiest way to do this is through repetition. Reading “Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography and other Writings” I learned about the power of habits and how they can be rewritten to suit new needs. At the age of 20, in 1726, Benjamin Franklin penned a “plan” for regulating his own conduct. They have become known as the 13 virtues. He lived with each virtue for a week before moving on to the next virtue. The whole process taking thirteen weeks to complete and then he would start again from the beginning. He continued to do this throughout his life and many have followed in similar footsteps. Franklin set out on a quest to develop his very character. He devoted himself to the improvement of his mental and moral qualities. He wrote the 13 Virtues in which he would tackle one virtue at a time and he wouldn’t move on to the next virtue until he felt he had mastered the one at hand.
He wasn’t always successful and at times, as we do, he fell short of his attempts. But he worked on these virtues until the day he died and he documented his progress and shortcomings in a journal. What Author, Og Mandino, calls the Success Recorder.
Here is the list of virtues:

"TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."

"SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."

"ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."

"RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."

"FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."

"INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions."

"SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."

"JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."

"MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."

"CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no un-cleanliness in body, cloths, or habitation."

"TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable."

"CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."

"HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

I share the list with you as a starting point to counteract the list we made of the patterns we need to change. I think if we were to take our own pattern one pattern at a time, find or create it’s counterpart and spend 30 days with each one we will find that we have de-brainwashed ourselves and we will be on to bigger and better things.
Let’s take another look at our list.  Let’s organize our list in order of priority.  Take out a fresh piece of paper.  Fold it into three columns.  The first column label Old Habit.  Next column will be New Habit and the third column, My Virtue.  Down the side of your paper list your habits in order of priority.  Which of these patterns is interfering the most with your growth?  Once you have these patterns listed in order let’s take each habit and in the next column let’s put the habits counterpart.  It can be one of Franklin’s virtues or one you come up with on your own or one you borrow from someone you know.
If you took the time to write out your patterns then take the time to write a paragraph about what each of these mean to you. How you will change your life for the better by making these adjustments in your life. Be specific. And always speak in the positive. Once you have your paragraph (or two or three) keep it with you. Read it everyday at least three times a day. Read it when you wake up. Read it during or after lunch and read it before you go to bed at night.
The best way to accomplish a new habit is through repetition.   Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.

Document your success on a calendar or in a journal.  This is for you and your journey.  

Let me know how it goes. 

Partial List of Pattern Suggestions:

Low Self Esteem
Lack of Self Confidence
Attracting Unhealthy Relationships
Self Sabotage
Alcohol Abuse
Narcotics Abuse
Cigarette Addiction
Fear of Failure
Fear of Success
Negative Thoughts
Victim Mentality
Feeling Stupid
Being Self Consciousness
Being Defensive
Always apologizing
Can’t let go
Lack of Motivation
Fear of Commitment
Insecurity In Relationships

© 2010

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Words on Screen & Words on Paper

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