You may be asking yourself, why would I want to go through such a process? (For the first part of this discussion, see Holding Patterns.)
Well, in the simplest of terms, habits, patterns, and psychologies become the bars of a prison of our own making in this life. They limit our freedom, limit our possibilities, and, sometimes, make us not very nice people.
For example, we all have fears or psychologies about certain things. This could be a fear of looking foolish or vulnerable, so we stop trying new things. It could be a fear of intimacy, so we push away the people who love us most. It could be a sense of inferiority, so we don’t ask for that raise or promotion or, if we are in a position of authority, we are abusive of our position and people come to fear or hate us.
Emotional patterns can arise in simple conversations, when someone uses a certain phrase or tone of voice that causes an overreaction in us. We may say something that creates a rift that cannot be mended, or that just causes us pain and anguish for days or weeks. All of us do it all the days of our lives, and negative emotional patterns operate on the same principle in our system as the skills to be a concert pianist: we have done them so often they have become second nature to us.
We could say, these patterns, habits, and psychologies are the tunes we dance to in our lives. When the right music begins to play, we get up and dance – we can’t help it. We no longer think about where they originated, or why we do them, we just do them repetitively. And again, we make the mistake of thinking they are “us,” when they are not. Depending on circumstances, our habits and patterns could have all been positive, beneficial ones, if we’d had the proper kind of upbringing and education (which very few on this planet receive).
And that brings us back to personal development. The first thing to consider in this is: who and what do I want to be? By that I mean really sitting down and asking what I am passionate about and why. Then the question becomes: what prevents me from attaining that?
What prevents us will have many levels and degrees of subtlety, so they won’t be discovered all at once. That’s why we need to find a way to become aware of them when they arise. When we get a flood of emotion, we should ask ourselves, where does it come from? Then try to recognize it in all the ways it creeps into our lives. In doing this, we are basically shining a light into the attics of our life, and using our awareness to clean out what’s no longer worth saving.
It takes patience and time. And it requires that we forgive ourselves all along the way, because we had little or no say in the way we were raised, or about the world we were born into. We can’t help the past, we can only try and take control of the present and help shape our own future.
The benefits to this are enormous, and include decreased stress and anxiety, increased joy and happiness, and a greater understanding of how our systems work, so we can be the guide and orchestrator of our lives. But the beautiful part is that we can start today to change our lives for the better, and when we do it will also have a wonderful effect on those around us.
It’s not a process of fixing everything, it’s about minimizing what doesn’t serve our purposes, and maximizing what does. Once we get the hang of it, our systems will pick it up and begin to help us. That’s when we can really begin to dance our own dance.