Old Patterns Don’t Open New Doors

I am a podcaster, speaker and author in the area of self-leadership: the intentional act of creating your freedom, your life, your way.

April 4, 2023

Patterns. Winning strategies. Modes of operating.

We all have them.

Some of them have made us very successful. Until they become the locked door we can’t break through.

There comes a point when our patterns outlive their usefulness. At that point, they begin to keep us stuck. They are working against us, but because we’ve had them for so long, we can’t see them anymore.

Here’s an example: I grew up very modestly. I was a farm girl and I worked hard. I started picking and selling blackberries when I was 12 because I needed to make money for school clothes. (Side note: it takes a LOT of blackberries to buy school clothes!) My pattern was that I pushed myself. HARD.

It didn’t matter how much of an underdog I was.

It didn’t matter if I was sick or tired.

It didn’t matter what effort it took.

I worked hard. And I prided myself on my ability to outwork anyone.

That was my winning strategy. I could point to it and say: “That’s why I am successful in my career. It’s why I maintained a 4.0 GPA during my undergrad and graduate programs. That’s why I’m a published author.”

It’s also what led to my collapse back in 2003. About 18 months into my recovery, I found a new doctor, Dr. Barb, and she assured me that I could get well again (which was great news as she was the first doctor who believed that I could). I proudly told her, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it because I can push through anything.”

She looked at me and said: “That’s exactly what got you sick and what got you sick will not get you well.”

That’s when I had to confront my pattern. In a way, though, I was very lucky. Most people don’t have a crisis that puts a spotlight on their pattern the way that I did.

Patterns can be anything, but at the heart of it is this: they are our automatic ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. They are so ingrained that we may not even be aware of them anymore. We – mistakenly – believe that the pattern is simply who we are.

The problem comes about when we take the pattern or behavior too far. Like I did. Did I need to work hard so that I could buy school clothes, a car, pay my way in life, put myself through college, etc.? Yes, I did. It became a problem when I over-relied on it.

Here are some examples of other patterns:

  • I need to control the project because others won’t do as good as job as I will.
  • If the others are happy, then I will be.
  • Just put it on my shoulders. I’ll get it done.
  • I have to manage every last detail. No one else pays attention to details.
  • I have to push myself to have my edge.
  • I’ll just do it because I’m the only one who can do it right.
  • Why do all the worst things happen to me?
  • Others think I’m distracted or that I over-think things, but I’m 5 steps ahead on our backup plans.
  • If I say no to a request, what will others think?
  • Don’t worry, it’ll work itself out.

Again, patterns begin to work against us when we take them too far.

Most of our patterns are driven by our Inner-Saboteurs. A Saboteur is our automatic ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.  There are 10 Saboteurs that researchers have identified:

  • The Judge (which is universal)
  • The Avoider
  • The Controller
  • The Hyper-Achiever
  • The Hyper-Rational
  • The Hyper-Vigilant
  • The Pleaser
  • The Restless
  • The Stickler
  • The Victim

If you’d like to learn more about which ones you might have – and how they might be working against you, message me and I’ll be happy to share a free assessment with you. No strings attached.

Subscribe to the Find
Your Forward Newsletter

Find Your Forward is my bi-weekly newsletter to move you forward when you are stuck, facing a crossroads, or adapting to a fast-changing world. No matter where you are, there is always a way forward.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.