More and more individuals from all walks of life are recognising that they’ve adopted unhealthy behaviour patterns and they’re desperately searching for a way out.
Don’t get me wrong, routines are great for getting us out of bed in the morning, getting to work on time and keeping us healthy and alive. They give us structure: we know what to do and when to do it, and as humans, most of us like a bit of order. But what happens when our routines fall apart? We end up are all over the place not knowing where to go …
Change can be good for you…
What about those patterns that aren’t necessarily healthy for us? What about those patterns that cause us to behave unconsciously without a blink of the eye? Like unhealthy spending habits, or poor relationship choices, social media addictions, or being perpetually late? …. These are the things that seem ingrained. And we wish that in the moment we catch ourselves repeating them that we could stop, and ‘change’.
When you have deep-seated behaviours that you want to change, interrupting or breaking the pattern needs to take place for you to grow and expand – to be that very best healthy, wealthy and wise individual that you aspire to be.
Many of these patterns are things we’ve done for a lifetime, and it’s hard but not impossible to change them. Something like emotional eating, for example, where you reach for the ice-cream every time you’re stressed or upset, and you tell yourself – “That’s just the way it is! That’s what I do when I am agitated, confused or distressed! “
Well, that’s a whole lot of bollocks!
Edward de Bono explains how creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way. Which means we have to be more conscious of our unconscious patterns. We need to really connect with what these patterns stop us from being, doing or having.
Get rid of those old patterns and experience a breakthrough…
As human beings we love patterns, our brain loves patterns because we are creatures of habit. And this is the most interesting part of this whole process.
A ‘pattern interrupt’ is a term and a technique you can use to change particular thoughts, behaviours and any kind of situations. Behavioural psychology uses this technique as a basis for changing the way we think, and therefore how we respond and act.
Did you know that your brain can process anything from 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day? This would equate to roughly 35 to 84 thoughts per minute, flowing back and forth – from your thoughts to your feelings, depending on how much you process the world around you. Mind blowing right? Okay, so the next amazing fact is that 95 percent of these thoughts are repeated every day … Which allows very little space for new thoughts or feelings.
To change, the process itself is relatively simple. The difficult part is making a commitment.
Here’s what to do. Firstly, understand the pattern that you would like to break. Emotional eating? Spending too much time watching TV? Leaving everything to the last minute and always feeling rushed and disorganised? Whatever it is, once you identify it, you can change it.
There is always room to be a better person…
The next question is how or where does it impact or hinder your life or career? Many people consider that they spend too much time on social media, and many people also consider it a waste of time and something they’d like to break free from. Pinpoint when your weakness for social media is at its peak … is it once you’ve finished work and you want to wind down and connect with friends? Late at night, in bed? Or, first thing in the morning?
Be honest. Do you walk in the door and plonk yourself on the couch and get lost in your smartphone? Do you wake up at 5am when your alarm goes off because you promised yourself that you would start going to the gym … but instead you hit snooze, reach out for your smartphone and start scrolling through Facebook?
Once you can connect with your particular pattern, then you need to think about a way that you can replace it. Perhaps you could go for a walk and leave your phone at home, or sit down and play a board game with your kids, or make a cuppa and just talk? If it’s late at night, maybe commit to reading a book before bed instead, or start journaling – it’s a wonderful way to connect with yourself and spend time reflecting on the good and bad aspects of your day.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone…
A ‘pattern interrupt’ takes patience and support, so it’s important to get your friends or family to help you out. Let them know you want to break some unhealthy patterns, this will keep you accountable. By breaking your patterns, it will jolt you out of your familiar thoughts and routines, …. And the wonderful thing about that is that you really won’t know what you are capable of until you open yourself up to the possibilities.
A ‘pattern interrupt’ involves you to be brave and committed because an interruption to your schedule can be an inconvenience, especially to that part of your brain whom is comfortable in doing those old patterns over and over again. If you find it challenging, that’s normal especially if you have been doing this pattern for a very long time, it does require a bit of effort on your part to ‘let go’ and ‘accept’ that you can’t control every situation and outcomes all of the time.
Let’s stick with the Facebook example. Once you have successfully interrupted your pattern this is what the outcome may look like. You finish work, you walk in the door and you put your smartphone as far away from you as possible, put it in your cupboard if you have to – out of sight, out of mind. Now it’s time to invest time with your loved ones, help your partner get ready for dinner, or play with your children to help your partner out. Then it’s that time of the night, off to bed you go and because your smartphone is your alarm, put it as far away from you as possible so you have to get out of bed to turn off your alarm, which will force you to jump into your gym clothes ready for your exercises first thing in the morning.
Do that for 21 days straight and start to see the difference – your relationships will blossom, you will feel more energised and motivated because you are going to the gym as you promised yourself.
So… are you ready to break or interrupt those unwanted patterns? Begin with one little pattern at a time and focus on that, then you can work on your next one, it’s really important to keep it simple, because if there is too much that you need to work on, it won’t happen at all because your brain will feel overwhelmed.