In the course of leading my life, I have made it a practice to leave behind destructive and limiting patterns and beliefs. I can only leave these behind when I am aware that I am in a destructive and limiting pattern or belief. Coming across one of these can be distressing or even shocking. Watching how something has played out in my life without me realizing it. Sometimes friends and family help me to uncover a belief or pattern. I would like to say that this is a beautiful moment when it happens. Mostly it is not. I do pat myself on the back for getting through the distress or shock reasonably quickly.
First, I need to become aware of the pattern I have locked myself into. I will give you an example. I have the habit of making a to-do list for my day. The list is intended to keep me focused on assignments that move my life and my work forward to accomplish my overarching vision and goals. The list is intended to help me align my energy to life including work that I am committed to. A life that is life nurturing for me and for others.
Sounds good so far. Seems like an acceptable pattern. I thought so. Until I developed awareness that I had turned this list making into a destructive pattern. A pattern that was life depleting for me instead of life nourishing.
Here is what happened
I have a lot of ideas as a creative person and one idea seems to branch out into multiple ideas very quickly. The daily lists I was making got longer and longer. One evening, I became aware that I was feeling depleted and depressed. I was very down on myself, telling myself that I was just not going to accomplish what I had set out to do because I was not getting my tasks done through the day. I assumed that I was getting slower as I was aging. And I assumed that I was heading myself into failure. I assumed that my business would collapse if I didn’t figure out how to stay on task better. I usually have good self worth. During this period, my sense of self worth was getting into difficulty. I felt more and more depressed and anxious.
When I noticed what was happening, I had the wisdom to remind myself that “I am whole”, “I am precious”, “I am capable”, “I am productive”. To reinforce the message, I started writing this down, underscoring what was right about me.
And then an insight came that might be obvious to others, but it wasn’t obvious to me until that moment. Daily, I had been making lists for myself that were too long for anyone to complete in a day. I was in a pattern of self destruction, setting myself up for failure every single day. Every evening, I was judging myself harshly for not having completed a list and I was destroying my personal sense of success. I was destroying my sense of self worth.
Leaving Behind the Destructive and Limiting Patterns and Beliefs
I chose, at that moment, to get out of my self destructive limiting pattern. It started with shortening the lists ;-). I celebrated every accomplishment, and when I caught myself with any thoughts of self judgment, I used a pivot technique of ‘cancel, cancel, cancel’ to train my mind to cancel the self judging thoughts.
This technique is really as simple as catching yourself in those negative thoughts and then putting a stop to them by saying “cancel, cancel, cancel.” Perhaps silently to yourself. Or even strongly out loud to really train your mind in putting an end to those limiting patterns and beliefs.