Albert Einstein, the genius that he was, has been credited for once saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
…While most of are not actually insane, many of us can relate to this quote, because there is truth behind it. For if we are to be honest with ourselves, we must admit that, from time to time, we fall in to patterns that do not work for us. And as frustrating and discouraging as this can be, it is for good reason, because every dysfunction has its function, and because sometimes meaningful change requires the repeated learning and practice of difficult lessons.
So, if you are like the rest of us, and you are noticing negative patterns in your life, consider the following questions to help initiate positive change:
What are my patterns?
As they say in the 12-Step Program, thefirst step is to recognize that you have a problem. Or, in this case, a pattern. What, cycles, and trends seem to continuously play out in your life? What is going on in your life when you find yourself lamenting, “I always…” or “I never…”. When you hear these words echoing in your own ears, listen, reflect, and prepare to break a cycle.
How can I be accountable to myself?
After identifying that there is a pattern in your life that you would like to break, you must take accountability. Even if you struggle to own the problem, own the fact that this is your life, and empower yourself to make a change. Problems are not solved by blaming other and making excuses. They are solved by taking responsibility for the change that we would like to see, even if we are not responsible for the circumstances we find ourselves in.
What am I feeling?
Once you are able to identify your emotions and see them as signs and guideposts of what is going on within you and around you, you will be able to get off the emotional roller coaster that you have found yourself on and instead take a better look at what you are feeling, why you are feeling it, and what you want to do about it.
What lesson is to be learned?
No matter the situation, there is something to be learned. Find the value in the hardship.
What can I do differently?
If you want to make a positive change in your life, know that you need to make positive choices, and sometimes this means doing things differently than you normally do. So, think about how you typically react to a situation, and instead, choose to respond. This can be uncomfortable, but when practiced with intention and mindfulness, it can be powerfully transformative.