How to Hack Your Patterns When You Feel Stuck

Woman in Front of her computer disappointment and frustrated

While everything feels different in the world there are some things that usually remain consistent unless we become clear and intentional about changing it – our patterns.

Do you ever feel like you are caught in the same cycle (pandemic or not)? You keep trying to do things differently but your own self gets in the way. Then, you think to yourself that this will never work and guess what, it doesn’t.

You came so far in life whether physically or psychologically but you feel like you have hit a brick wall. When do you start to get past it all?

What’s Your Self-Talk?

Well, in the first place, let’s start on how you talk to yourself.

Therapists tend to talk about cycles a lot and you would think that from this our favorite shape would be a circle but in fact, it’s usually a triangle.

In mental health, this triangle goes by many names for the sake of this article we will call this the cognitive triangle. The cognitive triangle originates in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, you may be hearing a lot about CBT lately especially if you have been seeing the new apps like Woebot.

The cognitive triangle is a way of how we connect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Let’s use a simple example like how you feel when you are looking for your next level job. You think to yourself that you will never be able to get that job, it’s your dream job and only the best are able to work there. It hurts but instead of soothing yourself, you speak even more harshly. You obsess about how this will never happen. Your nerves become harder and harder to handle. You then think about the rejection and you go into the interview as if you had already lost it because you talked yourself out of being open to new possibilities. Then when you don’t get the job, you beat yourself up again saying that you will never get it.

You just manifested your destiny. Instead of pumping yourself up before a big interview, you brought yourself down. And people picked up on that.

You spoke your future even if it was something that you didn’t want. You said it over and over again to yourself until you made it real. This is called negative self-talk. I have written about negative-self a few months and if you want to know more about it, you can read that article here.

Negative self-talk is essentially talking very pessimistically to yourself or down to yourself. Instead of being your own biggest fan, you are your biggest heckler. And what does a heckler want? The heckler wants you to fail in order to ridicule you even more.

Are you being kind to yourself?

Absolutely, not!

Why are you doing that?

Probably for many reasons that you have experienced in the past and from those past experiences, you fell into some not so nice patterns. And there your cognitive triangle or as some like to say drama triangle began.

Disrupting Yourself

How do you disrupt this evil triangle?!?!?

Well, you have to first start with how you talk to yourself. There are multiple ways in which you can do this but I will give you two simple tools that you can put into your toolkit right now.

One being gratefulness journaling. Take a small notebook and write three thing in your life that you are grateful for everyday. We so often focus on what is negative that is in our lives and what we don’t have that we forget and neglect what we do have.

This may seem so miniscule but try it for 30 days and then reflect on how you feel. When you look back through that journal, you will have a collection of all the positive things in your life. Every time you feel down now, you can always go back to that journal to remind yourself that while things may not be perfect, not everything is lost.

The second exercise that I recommend is called abundance journaling. Imagine that a miracle happened and you got everything that you want exactly how you wanted. Write down in detail how that would be as if you were in it right now.

This can serve two purposes in my experience. One is mindset. If you believe that it can happen, it will happen. Remember your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all connected. If your thoughts are positive, your feelings tend to follow suit and your behaviors will follow after that. Even if every once in a while you have set back, you are able to get back on the wagon a lot faster that you were able to before.

The other purpose that this is good for is seeking clarity on whether that is the life you truly want. Most people don’t think in detail about how it will be, they only think that they will feel some type of relief. And, yes, you will have positive feelings when you reach your life design goal but that doesn’t mean that you will stop working.

Triangles aren’t All Bad

At the end of the day, we are all in a cognitive triangle whether good or bad. It’s how you make your cognitive triangle work for you. If you’re avoiding work tell yourself that you are going to work for 10 minutes and then see if you beat. I bet you will. You feel out of shape. Instead of driving your car, take a walk to complete your errands that are close to home.

Keeping giving these little incentives and see how far you can disrupt patterns that don’t suit you.

And By the Way!

My name is Tara. I am a therapist who provides online counseling services in the state of Illinois. This blog post is not therapy and it should not be used as a substitute for therapy. If you would like to talk more, you can schedule a free 15-minute consultation, click here!

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