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How do your patterns and preferences affect your daily life?

Inspiration

I was inspired to write this blog because of a post on LinkedIn by Anne Archer.  She referred to listening as a superpower.  As a coach and a Samaritans volunteer, I would definitely say that listening is a superpower.  However, this skill that I have cultivated over many years is also an example of patterns and preferences that can be incredibly useful and powerful.  They can also hold us back when used in situations when other actions might be more appropriate.

Listening

I have developed a skill in listening because I was so painfully shy, I preferred shrinking into the shadows and giving other people the limelight.  I would ask them questions and deflect the attention away from me.  As soon as they asked me anything, I would answer briefly, followed by another question.  I didn’t want to be seen or have the focus on me, so I learned to listen and ask questions.  This pattern has led to me playing small and not sharing my experience and wisdom with others.  It has also allowed me to give time and space to people to speak about challenging life circumstances, discover insights about themselves, reflect on choices and actions they have taken and share intimately their hopes, fears and doubts.  So you see, patterns and preferences are neither good nor bad.  It depends when and how you use them and whether they serve you and others in the most appropriate and empowering way.

Patterns and Preferences

Awareness of patterns and preferences gives you freedom and choice

Listening is just one example of my patterns and preferences. I am also prone to worry and anxiety, saying “sorry”, even when it isn’t necessary, not resting and working long hours and eating when I am bored or for comfort.  I do these things unconsciously most of the time.  They are not bad in themselves.  But when done unconsciously, we begin to lose choice, freedom and power within our lives.

Sometimes patterns and preferences have a positive impact. But the same lack of choice and control still applies. I am also prone to generosity, giving my time freely, I love to help others and cooking healthy meals.  And of course, I love to listen.  If you want to live a life of meaning and purpose, I think it is important to be conscious of your patterns and preferences so that you can be at choice.  To live on autopilot or defaulting to your habits may be convenient, but it can lead to disempowerment and take you away from your purpose and power in life.

Patterns and preferences are a compassionate way of looking at your habits. No judgement about whether they are wrong or right, good or bad.  It is about observation and awareness that ultimately leads to choice.  It isn’t always the best thing to listen.  Sometimes speaking out is important.

How can you notice your patterns and preferences?

By definition, patterns and preferences are so engrained in your mind and body, you often do not realise you are doing them.  Your neurobiology lends itself to creating patterns and preferences so save on time and energy (you can find a past blog I wrote about this here.  Recall your first few days at a new job.  They are tiring and time consuming, learning new tasks and processes.  Or learning to drive.  Using all those controls and manoeuvring through traffic take all your attention.  And then one day, those new activities are easy to do and you give them far less thought and energy.  Your body is excellent at making regular activities economical, moving those processes into your subconscious so that they happen automatically.  The challenge is they are often hard to notice as they happen below your conscious awareness.

Also, you may not connect your patterns and preferences to specific outcomes and therefore miss the impact you have on the people and the world around you.  Getting regular feedback from friends, family and colleagues can be a useful tool.  Make sure you can trust them to be truthful and kind with their reflections, otherwise it can become a painful experience that leads to greater resistance to change.

Do something different

Taking up new activities is a brilliant way to notice patterns and preferences.  Or doing the same thing in a different way.  Both will highlight what feels familiar to you mentally, physically and emotionally.  As I mentioned in a recent blog, I have taken up Tango.  What I require from my body is completely different to martial arts- Tango asks for freedom in the chest and shoulders while martial arts requires a more solid and rigid centre.

My mind set is totally different too- one of relationship, leading, following and passion in Tango rather than one of domination and control which martial arts can be prone to.  The learning environment also exposes patterns- group classes give you a place to hide and be less precise and disciplined with technique, while private lessons offer greater feedback and focus.  Conversely, group lessons give you a chance to dance with many people, while private lessons don’t offer that diversity.

Freedom and Choice

No one way is right or wrong.  I mention them to highlight patterns and preferences.  What do you prefer? What feels familiar?  Think of something that you do regularly.  Brushing your teeth? Dressing? Communicating with your partner, children, work peers, your boss, the checkout person at the supermarket? Are you quiet at parties or the life and the soul? How do you do it? Could you do it differently? What would it be like to do it differently? How does it feel to change it? What does it tell you about your patterns and preferences? How might the outcome be different if you did it differently?

The more aware you become, the more freedom you have to choose your actions and how you take action.  Who are you being when you speak to people?  And how are you being when you are doing it?  Mind and body are one integrated whole.  Mind set and how you are you in your body are intimately connected.  You can use mind and body as entry points to developing that awareness.  And with that awareness comes freedom and choice.

Over to You

What are your patterns and preferences?  What could you do differently?  Once you notice them, how do your patterns and preferences serve you? How do they not serve you? Do you want to make changes as a consequence? What would those changes be? I’d love to hear about your experiments and discoveries. Please post them in the comments box or if you prefer, e-mail me at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk and we can explore your findings together.

Your significant relationship- how are you showing up?

This week marks 2019’s designated day of Love- February 14th, Valentine’s Day. You could spend your time right now reading about the commerciality this brings and the hollowness or shallowness of this dedicated day to romance. Or you could be reading about how to sweep your lover off their feet and thrill them in sexual desire.  Instead, I’d like to discuss a much broader topic that is central to a successful relationship……. how are YOU showing up in your significant partnership with lover, spouse or partner?

Who are you choosing to be?

There is no doubt there are challenges in all relationships. The key, I believe, is understanding where your responsibilities lie and who you are choosing to be in every moment. There is also an ambience to a relationship and what you bring to create, maintain and grow that ambience.

What do you put in?

There are a couple of really great metaphors I have been taught about successful relationships. The first is that a relationship is a container. It is as full as what you put into it. The kind of things you put into it determines it’s ambience.

For example, if all your energy is focused on your work, you put very little into the container. If all your focus is on the kids what are you putting into the relationship with your partner? It needs feeding. What are you feeding it with? You can hear more about that here:

What is the ambience of your relationship?

If you feed the container with abuse, control, cynicism, lies and indifference, what do you think the container is going to be like? Gestures of flowers, chocolates and a beautiful meal once a year is not going to do much to change the ambience of the over all relationship is it?  Also, you are going to be able to take very little from the relationship that is positive and nourishing.

If love, respect, honesty, curiosity, interest, empowerment and support are regularly poured into the container, the ambience will be empowering and nurturing. Another gesture on February 14th is only going to reinforce what you already know to be true about the relationship, right? Valentine’s Day is just another part of your Valentine’s Life that consistently fuels a beautiful relationship.  You will be able to draw positive and nourishing from the relationship whenever wanted or needed.

What you bring to the relationship creates that ambience. Once a year won’t do it. Choosing to be the supportive, romantic, funny, respectful and honest partner you want to be everyday is going to build the kind of relationship you really hope and long for. However you want to show up with your partner, choose it purposefully, consciously and intentionally and choose it everyday.  Honour your values and bring them alive in all you do…. and that includes your significant relationship.

Is there balance?

A co- dependent relationship is like two cards leaning on each other. One will fall if the other leaves. Independent and inter- dependent relationships are fair healthier and resilient.

This does not mean all your attention is in your relationship. That is not healthy and balanced. If you did, what other parts of your life suffer as a result? This would only put strain on your relationship and make you dependant in each other. This is known as co- dependency.

This brings us to the second metaphor. Co- dependency is like when two cards lean against one another. Take one card away and the other card crashes to the floor. This is not a healthy open relationship.

Instead, learn independence. Cultivate your own life, interests and friendships. Be an interesting person to yourself and your partner. Be excited about ALL your life.

Including your partner. Be curious about him/ her. Delve deep into them. Discover their fears and their strengths. Listen to their longing and their dreams. Let them surprise you. Allow yourself to be in awe. And be awesome.

Learn to stand beside them.  Two cards side by side.  Neither one reliant on the other.  Each supporting one another.  Creating space, freedom and openness in the relationship to be individual, independent wholes.  Offer support, love and understanding when needed, in the knowledge that your partner is naturally creative, resourceful and whole. Allow them to do the same with you. Be open, transparent and vulnerable.  This makes the relationship greater than the sum of the parts.  An inter- dependent system that serves more than the two- it serves all the rich communities of which you are both a part.

Taking responsibility

You don’t need each other. You choose to be together. Don’t blame them. You are at choice.  Take responsibility and choose to be in the relationship or not. If you choose to stay, be all you can be to serve you, your partner AND the relationship.

If it is really not serving you and you have tried everything you can or if you feel you are not being met by your partner, perhaps it is time for an honest conversation. To ask for what you want from the relationship and your partner. You don’t HAVE to put up with any crap……. you CAN choose to, for the sake of so many other benefits that may get as well. It is up to you.

As Valentine’s Day 2019 looms and passes, think about what you and your partner bring to the container that is your relationship. If something is missing I challenge you to speak to them about it….. lovingly, kindly and respectfully. Take ownership of your responsibility and allow them to take ownership of their’s. Discuss it, craft it and design a relationship of which you are proud.

One night of romance can be beautiful. Celebrate it on February 14th or not. It is the little drops of beauty and kindness that fall into the container of your partnership, the fierce love that holds responsibility and accountability to both of you that make it strong.

Don’t allow the hum- drum of life to dull your Light. Shine bright in your work, friendships, parenting, passions and significant relationship.

Love hard, love fiercely and above all love daily and create a container full of jewels that makes your relationship priceless.

Over to you

Do you have a Valentine’s Day or a Valentine’s Life? Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day once a year or throughout the year? Are you consistent in your responsibility for your relationship? Do you nurture your relationship as much as you can? Could you improve in your nurturing? Who do you bring to your significant relationship? Are you happy with what you bring? What would you do differently? Who would you be instead? What’s getting in the way? What are you getting right? What do you want more of?

Pass it on

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below or on social media posts. I’d live to hear from you and get a conversation going about this topic. Also, please pass it on to anyone you know who would be interested to read the blog. I’d appreciate it. Thank you.

Freedom to Choose

Do you find your self limited by old ways of thinking? Are you frustrated by getting the same results time and again?  Do you hold on to old ways of thinking that do not work? Would you challenge an old perspective?  Do you notice your self blaming others for the undesired results you get?

Do you come at challenges from the same direction? Can you change how you look at things so that you see them with fresh eyes and have different outcomes? Do you get bored with your career, relationships and perhaps even your self? Are you fed up with walking the same path?

Perhaps you need to challenge your thinking? May be what you bring to the table is contributing to the frustration? What if you were to look at the situation from another perspective? What if you could see a situation like a child, without boundaries, limitations or blinkered thinking?

Ritual Action

Without boundaries there is no need for limited perspectives, just the freedom to move and think as you choose

Without boundaries there is no need for limited perspectives, just the freedom to move and think as you choose

I came across this gate without fencing on either side of it in an open field while walking in Cambridgeshire.  It looked so strange in its place that I had to take a picture ( the wonders of modern technology).

Clearly at some point it had marked an access across a boundary. Now that boundary had gone and the gate was obsolete. I walked through it as a homage to old ways of thinking and ideas.

That ritual got me thinking about our entrenched ways of looking at life in general and at specific situations in particular. If we could break down the boundaries we wouldn’t then be forced to enter a situation from a given viewpoint.  Without boundaries there would be no need for a limited perspective, just the freedom to move and think as you choose.

Altering perspective

Let me share two examples in my life. I have a relationship with my bank that until recently has driven me mad with frustration. Every interaction I had with them from withdrawing money at ATMs, to speaking with staff or even internet banking left me agitated as I struggled with PINs, passwords and seemingly endless bureaucracy. One day I had the thought “Perhaps it’s me?”  When I complained about the bank to others, no one else seemed to have a problem.

I vowed to enter into interactions with the bank from then on with a new perspective and low and behold I have not had a frustration with them since. The boundaries I had created forced me to walk into any interaction with the bank through a certain gate- let’s call it “The Frustration Gate”. Once I dissolved away the boundaries there was no need to walk through “The Frustration Gate” any more.  I was free to interact with the bank openly and without feeling disempowered.

My second example goes much further back. My memories of childhood had overwhelmingly been very sad. I looked back at childhood with a dark veil over it and I imagined myself a victim and totally without power. Challenging that mind set has been liberating, allowing me to see that a few terrible situations had coloured my vision of my entire childhood. A sad yet avoidable truth. It has taken work which is on- going and now I see my childhood memories with so much more colour. Perhaps some boundaries are gone? Perhaps there are more gates now to the boundaries that remain? Who knows. What I do know is something is shifting, bringing joy and light into my life that wasn’t there before. That can only be a good thing.

Transformation and Freedom

So if you find your self endlessly meeting frustration and disappointment in life, perhaps there is more you can do than you realise? What can you do to challenge your old thinking? Can you create “gates” that bring new perspectives? What can you do to remove boundaries? Have a brainstorming session and see if there could be other ways to look at the situation? Talk with friends and colleagues about the way you see things?

As a life coach I see people’s lives transformed just by viewing old scenarios from another perspective, giving clients power, choice and the freedom to create the life they truly want for themselves.  When I teach I witness students’ horizons broaden with every new perspective they create for themselves.  As a leader I observe people stepping beyond the limited boundaries of their old perceptions and explore new territory that brings new challenges, growth and self- appreciation.

Over to you

I’d love to hear about your experiences of overcoming old ways of thinking and how that has empowered you towards choice and freedom. Please share your frustrations and successes so that we can build a resource on this website that people can come to for education, inspiration and find the ways to live their lives from their fullest potential.

Why not………..

If you found this article useful and interesting please pass it on to other people you think would be interested and spread the word.  I would really appreciate it.  And if you are new to Potentiality Coaching, why not sign up to the e- mailing list at https://www.potentialitycoaching.co.uk/ and get an e- mail straight to your in box when I post my monthly blog and be first to hear about news, information and insights at Potentiality Coaching.  I’d love to have you be part of the community.