“Someone, who has realized the Truth of what he is, rather than what he has been conditioned to believe he is, will be smiling in every cell of his being. It is infectious.”
A powerful insight is illuminated when we realize how much our conditioned patterns interfere with our happiness.
Many of these patterns have plagued us for years, and no matter what we try, they seem to take hold and not let go.
We hear about freedom as a possibility, but we just don’t know how to find our way there. And meanwhile, the patterns keep getting played out in our minds, our emotions, our relationships, and our choices in life.
First, it’s important to understand that deeply embedded patterns usually take time to unwind. You’re expressing tremendous self-compassion when you commit to working with them as much as you can whenever they arise. Because that’s what is needed for you to experience the peace and happiness you know are possible for you.
The goal is not to get rid of these tendencies. So when they reappear—and they will—it doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong. If they’ve been played out without much awareness for a long time, they are highly reinforced. This means they have a strong momentum to keep arising.
So what is your goal? To bring conscious awareness to these patterns as they are occurring and to relate to them with understanding, wisdom, and love. Because this is what softens them.
Love for the patterns? Yes, you read that right. These conditioned tendencies aren’t evil. Behind them lies a heartfelt motive to protect yourself and to avoid pain.
Do you smoke and want to stop? You’re probably trying to find a sense of inner calm. Do you feel like a victim? Maybe you’re hiding from some painful feelings. Do you put up barriers to intimacy in your relationships? You’re trying to stay safe inside.
And as convoluted as it may be, even getting angry at someone is an attempt to make them stop what they’re doing so you will feel peaceful.
As your desire for true peace and happiness grows, you realize that these patterns aren’t working for you. They had a helpful intention when they came into being years ago, but now is the sacred time when you’re ready to move beyond them.
Because you are way more magnificent than your patterns will tell you.
We sometimes don’t know where to start. So today I’d like to share with you a framework for working with these sticky patterns that I call top down and bottom up.
Top down means that you recognize the behaviors that aren’t working for you and you experiment with changing them.
Imagine acting as if you were someone who wasn’t caught in this particular pattern. What would that person do? How would they feel inside? What would they think?
Enjoy the possibility of stepping way out of the limited reality of the pattern.
Suppose that you’re free of this pattern—what would you do differently in any given moment? Give yourself some time for this reflection, and be as specific as possible.
Then experiment with embodying your newfound insights. Take a breath and open to your present moment experience (not the reality in your head). Look into your loved ones eyes before responding. Consider the whole and not only yourself. (This is one I’m working on.)
Then take in how these new ways of being feel in your body—because they will feel different. This is what happens when deeply held patterns begin to shift.
Along with top down, is bottom up. And here is the invitation to be so kind to yourself in meeting whatever emotions underlie these patterns. Often you’ll find longstanding fear, hurt and sadness, or a deep sense of lack.
If these feelings are ignored, they will continue to fuel the pattern. As you turn toward them with loving attention—a lot—they begin to get what they need. They calm down and soften. The nervous system starts to relax.
Then without the fuel of unexplored emotions, especially combined with the new behaviors you’re practicing from top down, amazingly you begin to experience that these patterns don’t have to define you.
In my experience, it feels like an inner revolution is starting to take place. I’ve felt a certain way for so long, then the pieces inside begin to move. I feel unfamiliar in my body—in a wonderful way. I’m in a space of not knowing how to be without that old identity, which feels so fresh!
There’s expansion and lightness in my whole being.
Maybe you’ve felt like a victim of your patterns for a long time. And here’s the truth: your experience of them can change. Try top down and bottom up. You’re creating the fertile soil for an inner revolution.