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Recognizing Our Patterns

As we’re working to recover, it’s so important that we start to become more aware of our patterns, our thought patterns, emotional responses, behavioral patterns and choices. For much of our lives, we’ve been unaware of our patterns, practicing, continuing and perpetuating them without being conscious of them. Recognizing our patterns is an important part of learning more about ourselves so that we can work to heal ourselves. Our addictions and mental health issues thrive on our lack of mindfulness and our unconsciousness. We get into certain habits and patterns that exacerbate our unwellness and that fuel our deeply rooted issues. In order to heal ourselves, we have to recognize our harmful patterns and work to transform them.

Many of our patterns began as coping mechanisms, the ways in which we try to protect ourselves from getting hurt and shield ourselves from difficult emotions. Many of these ways of coping are more harmful than they are helpful. They often reflect our self-destructiveness. They are also a reflection of our resistance to feeling the emotions we find most challenging – our sadness, fear, shame and anger. We try to avoid feeling them. We distance ourselves from them as much as possible. Our addictions are our way of trying to distract ourselves from our feelings, although we aren’t usually conscious of this. The more we suppress our emotions, the more likely we are to get depressed and suffer from all kinds of debilitating mental illnesses. One coping mechanism rooted in fear is denial. We develop patterns of avoidance, denial, secrecy and emotional suppression in an attempt to avoid facing our feelings. We deny their existence. We deny that we’re in pain. We deny how much fear we’re experiencing. We think we’re protecting ourselves and keeping ourselves from getting hurt, but our patterns are actually causing us more pain in the long run.

When we aren’t conscious of our patterns, they tend to wreak havoc on our lives, as well as on our mental and emotional well-being. We find ourselves dealing with recurring issues and painful cycles, such as similar relationship problems and difficult life circumstances. We find ourselves getting depressed, feeling anxious and down, and being consumed with worry and uneasiness, often without knowing why. We don’t know what it is we’re bothered by. We might feel off, or feel like we’re not ourselves. We might feel disconnected from ourselves and from other people. We might isolate ourselves more because we have a hard time expressing ourselves and communicating how we feel. We might not understand the symptoms of depression we’re experiencing or what might be causing them. We’ve developed patterns of unconsciousness where we aren’t at all mindful of our inner feelings, thought processes and emotional responses.

Being so disconnected from ourselves means we tend to act in ways that even we don’t understand. We make choices and develop behavioral patterns that feel distant, foreign and even unrecognizable to us. We might look back at our mistakes with regret but feel like someone else made them, because we don’t recognize ourselves. We might feel embarrassed, ashamed and disappointed in ourselves. We often won’t take the time to examine our behavioral patterns, partly because of how difficult they are to confront. We don’t want to look at ourselves because we’re afraid to look at our shame and disappointment up close. We’re afraid our mistakes will signify that we’re inadequate and unworthy. We’ve grown so accustomed to our patterns of avoidance and denial that the opposite, confronting ourselves, simply feels too scary and overwhelming. We find the fear debilitating, and we allow it to paralyze us into inaction. We continue to not practice mindfulness around our behaviors and our choices, and we continue to not do anything about them.

Working to recognize our patterns requires a certain level of humility and courage we often don’t think we possess. To be able to look at ourselves and be honest with ourselves can mean swallowing our pride, facing the feelings of shame, disappointment and embarrassment we’ve been afraid to feel, and having the courage to make necessary changes in our lives. We can summon this courage from within us because it’s always there. We just happen to have buried it under years of unconscious patterning. We can take the steps necessary to change our patterns by practicing mindfulness. We can start to get to know ourselves better. What are the default thought patterns, emotional responses, behavioral patterns and decision-making processes that contribute to your addictions and mental health issues? Do you suppress your feelings by distracting yourself with other things that feel better in the moment? Do you transfer your pain from one situation onto another, or from one person to another? Do you engage in self-destructive behaviors as a way of trying to cope with your painful experiences? Are you making choices that serve you or that hold you back and hurt you more?

Once we’ve done more work around examining our patterns, it becomes much clearer to us what action steps to take in order to live happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives. We start to see the harm in the patterns we’ve been perpetuating, how our patterns have been derailing our progress in our recovery, and how we’ve been limiting ourselves unconsciously.

The Guest House Ocala provides unparalleled, premier-quality treatment to those who suffer from self-defeating behaviors brought on by trauma and its underlying issues. We are uniquely equipped to help our guests heal from trauma-induced substance abuse, process addiction, anxiety or depression in a safe, comfortable and confidential setting. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.