The breaking of patterns
Patterns are big problem in life and a challenge on the spiritual path. Patterns of thinking, of emotional reactions, of behavior and of addictions are a matter of the subconsciousness and of learning processes. When we learn something then this is a process of making experiences which repeat in patterns. These patterns become something like a valid truth or a fact for the individual. And once they are set, they become an integrated habit.
When you are a young child and you say to your parents “Give me this!” or “I want this!” then your parents tell you that you must say “Please, give me this!” otherwise you won´t get what you desire. In a quite short process of learning where you make a few mistakes by forgetting to add the word “please”, you have set the pattern in your subconsciousness. So without the need to think, you say always “Please, give me this!” as you know that only in this case you get what you want. So here we have a reward respectively a kind of punishment or negative experience when you forget to say “please”. Learning needs a result, positive or negative one.
When you are a child and you touch a hot hob, then the pain is so immense that it is enough to make you learn not to touch hot hobs again in your life. Here we see that the stronger the result is, the better is the learning process and the creation of a new pattern.
The same happens with addictions. Here the result is so overwhelming that you want to repeat it. Think about chocolate. Once you have tasted it, you are always ready to eat it.
These things mean also that a learning process is super hard when there are no positive or negative results. Maybe think about learning mathematics or chemistry or something boring. At school you must do it but as long as there is no punishment or reward for you personally, there is no real motivation and no real success.
Some patterns can be only installed by pure repetition like in martial arts or dancing.
Other patterns of behavior are learned by role modelling. A child observes the behavior of the parents and simply copies it. In this way it learns how to behave. We are shaped a lot by our parents.
And probably you have learned about the dog of Pawlow at school which was trained to develop desired patterns of behavior. So the dog learned to connect the ringing of a bell with the idea to get food. After a while the ringing of the bell was sufficient to activate the body functions for receiving food. A similar process is when your alarm clock rings in the morning and you get up from bed. You are conditioned in this way. Your body activates itself to get up.
In conclusion, there are different ways to learn something and to set it as a pattern of reaction or behavior into your subconsciousness which becomes an integrated habit. In general, patterns are necessary and originally good and useful. But there are certainly patterns which cause only stress, suffering, pain, problems, etc. The good point is that patterns cannot only be learned once but also relearned, replaced by new and better patterns.
So, the first step is to discover negative patterns and to become aware of their roots. In the second step it is important to examine all single aspects of the pattern. What is the key stimulus? In which situations does the pattern occur? How is the reaction? Then, in the third step, you think about a better, more useful pattern which shall replace the old one.
For example: Let´s imagine that you get angry every time you face disorder. You discover that your mother showed exactly this pattern of behavior and that you simply learned it in this way. And now you are an adult and still you show the behavior of your mother. When you enter the room of your child and the room is in disorder, you get directly angry, you get loud, you are in stress and you get really mad. Your child is used to your behavior and does not react. And so you get even more angry. You need an hour to calm down afterwards and you feel sorry for being out of control. In the end, your behavior makes no sense, as your child does not react and the pattern is not yours. So, it makes sense to change it, to replace it by a better, more useful behavior. A useful reaction is to stay calm and to communicate with the child to find solutions for keeping order in the room. So, you need to replace the anger reaction pattern with the new staying calm reaction pattern.
Now, we come to the technical part. The old pattern consists of a chain of specific stimuli and reaction parts. This chain must be broken and then replace respectively reset in a new way.
One way is the active approach which takes a good amount of attention and control. Here you are aware of all aspects as you have thought about everything already. In our example, you step to the door of your child´s room and you know what normally is going to happen. You open the door, you see the chaos and you get angry. But today it will be different. You open the door and you stop the reaction pattern by taking consciously several breaths and thinking that you stay calm and that you only want to talk with your child. This new pattern needs training, repeating over and over again the necessary positive steps to replace successfully the old pattern.
Another approach is a kind of simulation where you use your imagination and a neutral stimulus. So, you sit in your meditation and you imagine the process of the old pattern. You break consciously the old pattern and you integrate new things into your behavior. So for example, you have a certain melody which makes you feel relaxed or you have a certain word which you have connected to peace of mind or you have white noise or something else which is neutral. This positive or neutral thing needs to be implanted in the chain of behavior in the right place. So, you stand at the door (in your imagination), you open it, you see the chaos and directly the melody appears or the white noise, etc. and this breaks your pattern of reaction, you feel calm and you can react in a conscious way. This simulation needs to be repeated several times. Here is important to understand that your subconsciousness does not differentiate between real experiences and a simulation. So in fact you learn a new pattern. Certainly, you need to apply it later also in real life.
In conclusion, once you have understood how learning processes work and that you are able to break the chains of a pattern to adjust it in a new, positive way, you can manage all your negative patterns more or less easily by yourself. This means that you can work on your refinement in an efficient way, dealing with all kinds of bad habits, old negative behaviors, infantile coping strategies, etc. And additionally, you can plant consciously and directly new, desired patterns for a better life. Just examine and design the processes. Connect the patterns with rewards and eventually punishment.
If you want, you could also consult a specialist for such things, a hypnotherapist for example. But in fact, you should be able to do it by yourself. In this way, you can also manage fears and other problems.
At last, – if pains, wounds of the soul, traumas, etc. are connected to certain bad patterns, then you also need to integrate healing sessions. Real healing is always necessary. When the healing has happened, then you can disconnect any emotional reactions from the old trauma, so that you are able to talk about it without any pain and without any evocation or reanimation of the trauma / drama. Unfortunately, people have a tendency to reanimate negative experiences and emotions which makes them stronger instead of healing them.
We humans need a lot of healing to become free for happiness and inner peace. You can help yourself easily and on the spiritual path it is very important to undergo such steps, also to use such methods to integrate desired qualities, abilities, etc.