Repeating old habits and unhealthy life patterns leads to frustration, hopelessness and even despair. Consciously changing habits and making healthy choices leads to a fulfilling life filled with confidence and joy. It requires becoming aware of what motivates the unhealthy habits, what deeper needs are being met that could be met in healthier ways, and what limiting beliefs need to be changed.
What Motivates Life Patterns?
When viewing peoples’ lives, patterns begin to emerge. Human beings are habit oriented so they tend to repeat actions and reactions over and over again, regardless of the end result. But when viewed more closely, it becomes obvious that these habits and life patterns are motivated by something, so therefore can be changed.
With self-awareness, a person can discover what motivates their behaviours and learn how to change habits. Let’s examine a person who needs to borrow money to be bailed out of financial difficulties time and time again. Although this financial pattern creates hardship, underneath it the unconscious motive may be to feel loved and cared for when they get bailed out by a family member or friend. The need for love outweighs the pain of the financial difficulty. They need to learn to love themselves and find healthier ways to receive love.
A person who repeatedly ends up in unhealthy relationships where their partner loses interest, becomes distant and perhaps even has affairs, may have an underlying belief that they are unlovable due to neglect or mistreatment as a child. This limiting belief dictates what choices the person makes, which further reinforces the belief. It acts like an unconscious radar signalling when the perfect match has been found for an unhealthy relationship. This person needs to change limiting beliefs and improve self-esteem.
Creating New Habits and Life Patterns
Here is a four step process for discovering what motivates specific patterns, and what can be done to change habits and create new life patterns.
1. Identify the pattern and cycle. Writing down the steps to the current unhealthy life pattern or even drawing it on a chart helps to identify what typically happens just before, during, and after the behaviour. For example, noticing what events triggered an eating binge and how it felt during and after are helpful to a person with unhealthy eating habits.
2. Look for the motive and payoff. Identifying the underlying need and payoff for the behaviour is important. For example, if a person pushes others away because of their controlling behaviours, they might discover an underlying need to feel safe and in control during times of change or transition. Controlling others helps them to meet this need.
3. Find healthier ways to meet needs. Exploring new, healthier ways to meet underlying needs and achieve the same payoff is required in order to create a new habit. For example, the controlling person could practice meditation as a way to develop a deeper spiritual connection filled with safety, trust and confidence.
4. Change limiting beliefs. Exposing any underlying limiting beliefs such as not being good enough, being undeserving, unlovable, or unworthy, is the first step in changing them. Once they are discovered, they can be consciously released and replaced with more truthful, supportive beliefs.
With deeper awareness people can begin making healthy choices by consciously changing habits and letting go of unhealthy life patterns. This automatically leads to a more fulfilling life.