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I can tell you that their influence is much greater than you think. And that you are probably oblivious to how well they have been perfected to play out at an unconscious level.
Behaviour Patterns. An Example.
Pete has been pushing a deadline ahead of him for weeks and is now under serious pressure to deliver. He’s known to justify it by suggesting: “I always work best under pressure“. Sometimes he misses the deadline and then beats up on himself for that. More often than not he scrapes home, but not without unnecessary tension affecting him and many around him, and quite often with substandard quality or result. He’s a smart guy. He should know better. Why does this keep playing out this way? This is a great example of such typical behaviour patterns. We all do them, right?
We procrastinate when we’re unsure whether we want to or are able to do something we feel obliged to. At an unconscious level we play out the steps that talk ourselves into or out of something. Like a protection mechanism so that we have an excuse, and can then justify.
So what are these Behaviour Patterns?
So, think about the way you brush your teeth. We do it exactly the same way every time, don’t we? The same sequence of actions creating a pattern that we don’t have to think about – it just plays out.
This is exactly how certain behaviours have been developed. They play out without us thinking about them. Have a think about a few that might be true for you.
How do you react when something really annoys you? When someone pushes your buttons? Or slights you? Or makes you feel inadequate? Some people are known to act quite aggressively to such situations, often regretting their outbursts afterwards. As if they couldn’t help but responding that way. Why and how does that occur?
When we probe into such behaviours, we can often find quite plausible explanations, often emanating from our youth or adolescence. Let’s say a person was often bullied at school, and found after a while, that if they reacted uncharacteristically aggressively, that the bullies would sometimes back off. A successful strategy in that situation, right? One that can easily be developed into other similar situations and seemingly create a solution for such situations. And so a behaviour pattern is born and subsequently developed.
Another very typical such behaviour pattern is if a (often youngest) child learns to get what it wants through tears. Another successful strategy in certain circumstances that can easily be developed into a behaviour pattern which helps them more often get what they want.
Even today as adults.
I describe another such example of a child giving the meaning of “I‘m not good enough” to a certain event in my blog Beliefs.
What Do Behaviour Patterns Mask?
And so we have often learned to mask certain realities with such “protective” behaviour patterns. Patterns that we have perfected to invoke them to play out every time – without our conscious awareness. And isn’t it remarkable what sophisticated justifications we can then come up with to mask these behaviour patterns?
They usually take someone (like a coach) to hold up a mirror to show you that these patterns are present and how they are being allowed to play out.
Often that already suffices to break the pattern and replace it with more resourceful ones. If not, having someone hold you accountable will usually help bring about the desired change.
Making Behaviour Patterns Conscious
What I’ve learned on my journey is that our conditioning influences (and develops) our belief system and helps shape our Values. They underpin our assumptions. These become our filters or lenses by which we judge right or wrong, good or bad. They affect our self talk and our decision making. They affect our sense of self esteem and self worth.Which influences our behaviour and helps us create Habits. And together with our experience, this all governs our outcomes. Good and bad.
Most of these play out at an unconscious level, without us being aware of them. Which I illustrate at the end of my book “Life Learnings of a Life Coach” quoting Carl Jung as having said: “until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate“.
I love that quote. It is just so apt and so real.
Behaviour Patterns. So What?
So now that we have this fully in our focus, what can we do about it?
My experience is that self-awareness is one of the keys. If we are curious about how we sometimes play out or respond to certain stimuli, we can wonder where that comes from. I’ve learned that in that situation, we can often probe further and establish if there might not have been certain “defining moments” where we inadvertently gave certain meanings to certain events, that have since then been allowed to develop into full blown, unconsciously held behaviour patterns.
We can all do this ourselves. Most don’t. This is where working with a coach can be so valuable. Why? Because we have no agenda other than what’s important for you to want to change. In in the safety of this trusted relationship, we can be held accountable to exploring and dealing with them.
I’ve learned that about 1 in 20 will have the courage to do so. And they too are usually the “5% that know why” that are usually the most successful. Why? Because they will do whatever it takes to overcoming obstacles holding them back.