Like it or not, humans are creatures of habit …
|by harminder dhesi photography|
Especially when we feel our habit is not “complete.” We like to resolve things, fix things, have a “happy ending,” if you will—clinging to them, like a dog to an old bone!
That’s why we end up being drawn into marriages and relationships that mirror some unresolved conflict from our past, and encountering similar negative consequences in our present.
It isn’t until we identify these repeating patterns—choosing to act/think in different ways—that we can ever hope to resolve them or heal them.
The Bible calls this “repentance”—a change of direction, mindset and behavior.
I have many old patterns that I repeat, sometimes unknowingly. They make my marriage and other relationships messy. They keep me confined to conflict and spiraling toward despair.
Some of my patterns are:
- If someone sounds harsh or starts a conflict with me, I feel extreme anxiety and usually want to run from the conflict. This has to do with the heated conflicts I often saw between my parents.* Sad to say, they had a messy marriage too. I’ve written about how this problem plays out in my marriage often on this blog.
- If vulnerable emotions are being expressed in a certain situation by others, I become very uncomfortable with giving-in to my own vulnerable emotions—opting for a more stoic response. This is due to an intentional habit I formed as a child, because I came to believe that emotions or crying was a sign of weakness.
- If someone even hints of leaving me out, I feel like an outsider and dwell too much on it. This is a leftover issue from my past when I perceived or believed that I was all alone and emotionally abandoned by my parents.*
I’m still working on changing my thinking/relating regarding each one of these, but it’s an uphill battle sometimes. These patterns stem from a child-like or immature way that I coped in past situations. Ultimately, they are unhealthy attempts to grasp control or love, when I now know that I need to surrender control to the God who loves me unconditionally.
It’s important to become aware of and acknowledge the unhealthy patterns you tend to repeat because it will give you a starting point to deal with it.
So how do you deal with it?
- Pray about it, asking God to give you awareness whenever you fall back into the pattern.
- Surrender to God your need to control the person, the situation or the uncomfortable emotions you feel whenever the pattern emerges.
- Work with a counselor or godly, mature friend to help you understand the reasons why you’re repeating the pattern. Understanding “why” can help you to address the need that’s feeding the pattern.
- Forgive the people in your past that hurt you. Often patterns are born out of the hurt or damage others have done to us.
- Ask God to give you insight into what new, healthy behaviors can replace the old.
- Ask a counselor or godly, mature friend to hold you accountable to do the “new” and get rid of the “old.”
So what old patterns are you repeating? Care to share?
God can use your authenticity here to ignite the process toward healing!
“Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” Ephesians 4:22-23 (NLT)
*I am not blaming my parents. I know they did the best that they could. I simply am acknowledging the past problem in an effort to give you, the reader, an example of ways we can get hung up on unresolved issues or experiences from our past.