Terri Hughes Blog

Breaking Old Patterns

Posted on Sunday, July 12, 2015

If this headline caught your attention, you could be ready to try something new...  I recently worked with a client who was gearing up for a reoccurring meeting with a group of people that always frustrate her with what she describes as passive/aggressive behavior, resulting in irritated angry reactions from her.  While this group does not report directly to her... they are extremely important to the successful achievement of her goals.  

I challenged her to think about several new ways she might approach this group to see if she could achieve a different outcome by doing things differently on her end.  She decided to try asking questions from a curiosity perspective and to maintain an open opportunity for dialogue and collaboration.  She had built a pattern of preparing for battle every time she met with them.

She told me her new approach is changing everything.  No surprise.  The 'battle' atmosphere was replaced with a more collaborative one.   Her focus on curiosity questions allowed her to recognize new input that she hadn't heard before, allowing for clarification of the issues.  She's on the way to new outcomes with this group... helping make her job easier.

Break Through

Are you noticing patterns that signal a need for change?  Doing the same things and anticipating a different result? "If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got". I know these may sound like tired clichés, but the points are significant. 

Our  patterns are formed from past experiences, and we tend to repeat them even when we know they are no longer serving us.  Until we stop and identify our patterns, it's hard to recognize what  needs to shift.  Breaking old patterns include new thinking, new perspectives, new actions or  new behaviors.

Idea to Try

Take yourself off 'automatic pilot' and see if you discover some old patterns to break that can be replaced with some simple shifts:

  •  Make some notes over the next several weeks of your most common patterns - those things you do repeatedly, and perhaps unconsciously  (If you have trouble with this, ask    someone close to you to help you identify your patterns - they will likely give you lots to choose from)
  • Take a look at the list and see if you can identify how the pattern started (sometimes our patterns are formed from a single experience that when repeated over time become unconscious habits that become ineffective)
  • Review the list again, and make some check marks next to the ones that you'd like to start breaking
  • Pick an easy one first, and create some new alternatives (could be as simple as my client - changing her approach with a difficult group using some clarifying questions)  
  • Expect to feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but be aware of how it feels to break the pattern and experience a new (and usually better) result
  • Then repeat the process with the other patterns you identified and start operating from a clear and conscious state!
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