How do we know our patterns and how do we change them?
Doing and saying the same things is called pattern. And, just as the name suggests, what we do and say creates the pattern – blueprint – for action in our brains to be repeated over and over again. Cognitive neuroscience shows us that these patterns create a type of neural groove such that the pattern becomes the preferred and subconsciously chosen action, thus ensuring that we repeat the patterns again and again ad infinitum. But, cognitive neuroscience also shows that these patterns can be changed, and these grooves over-written, so that new modes of behavior become available.
Patterns show themselves in our lives, our language, and our dreams.
Patterns show themselves in our lives by our choices and the problems we manifest. What seems like isolated events in isolated realms – like a dispute with a spouse and a disagreement with a boss – are in fact often the same thing. We know we are acting out a pattern if we find ourselves thinking things like “here we go again”, “I knew it was going to happen this way”, “this happens every single time when we …”
Patterns also show in our language by the words and metaphors we use to describe our feelings and states of being, how we tell a story from our history, or communicate experiences. For example we might say we are missing an anchor, feel like a cracked foundation, or that we fumbled the ball. Patterns also reveal in language by phrases we repeat: ‘I’m so tired’, or ‘If I don’t do it, it won’t get done’, “I’m so busy”, and so on.
Patterns are also revealed in our dreams. Repetition within dreams show us the repetition we are living. We might have a nightmare that repeats again and again – the car is out of control and no one is driving, or I can’t find the brakes; the plane starts to take off but then dives back down; I’m late to an important appointment and just can’t seem to get there; I have to take a test and I’m not prepared. Another way patterns are revealed are by energies expressing themselves the same way again and again in different dreams: I am in a house that is dirty and cluttered, then I am in a bar that is dark and cluttered; I am on a boat with a party that is too loud, then I am in a jungle with too many monkeys chattering loudly…
Fortunately dreams offer a different blueprint than the stuck groove of pattern – they offer the blueprint of the true self. Dreams are not hemmed in by linear thinking – they exist outside pattern. Dreams are of the place of creativity, imagination, and possibility. Therefore, dreams are necessary for leaping out of patterns, for stepping above them to gain a wider, longer view. It is through dreaming that we return to our blueprint – reversing out of the stuck patterns and stale repetitions – and re-enter the truth of our Self which is always renewing, fluid, and alive. When we do this we change our relationship to our past, create new futures for ourselves, and vibrantly inhabit the present.
Sick of your old stories? Ready to live a new one?