Pay attention to your patterns

“You always do that!” Has anyone ever said that to you? Were you surprised? We all have patterns for behaving, thinking, believing, even feeling. This is natural. Our brains LOVE patterns. Think of the brain as a super computer (it’s not really but just play along!) that is lazy (this is unfair but I’m making a point). The brain gets to kick up its feet and smoke a cigar if it can operate on automatic pilot. Patterns help brains kick back and relax. In fact, the brain is hardwired to love patterns so much that if it discovers a pattern - even if it isn’t true or helpful - so long as the brain is convinced that it has discovered a pattern - the brain rewards itself with a little shot of dopamine. The brain actually rewards itself for finding patterns - not for wisdom or discernment or good choices!

We have been making and adhering to patterns since we were itty bitty. And the brain is loathe to give up a pattern (think cigars and front porch rockers). Are we hosed? No, not if we can do the work of recovery!

Patterns have value for us because they make life simpler. I know what I like at Chipotle and I do not have to think about whether or not I am getting a bowl or burrito - it’s a bowl for me. I do not waffle between chicken or steak - I choose chicken. Chipotle is a no brainer for me (give the brain a cigar!).

What patterns are you noticing about yourself? Are they helpful or just leftovers from a different time in your life?