Pattern recognition

I generally tend to think I know myself pretty well. Apart from having lived with me, lo these many years, I’ve spent a good bit of time exploring what I do and why I do it. Between 12-step programs and Vipassana and therapy and lots of reading, I’ve pretty much come to see myself as the #1 Expert in Me.

Which is why it was surprising the other day when I espied an entirely new pattern. (Not that the pattern was new—it’s not—but it was new for me to see it.)  Surprising and also exciting, because seeing is always the first step towards relating differently.

So here it is, the thing I realized: I have spent a huge part of my life trying to get people to give me things they don’t want to give me. I don’t have to keep doing this.

Like most transformative insights, this one sounds obvious. And simple. What makes it significant is the way it reordered my internal landscape. I felt it as a visceral shift. A relaxing. An ahhh, ah hah.

The best part is the awareness that I don’t have to work so hard. My life is quite challenging enough, without this added pressure. Also, that massive energy I’ve invested in trying to wrench things loose? It’s free to be deployed in other far more fun and productive ways.

There are likely lots of reasons that this pattern took root, many of which no doubt wend back to my teeniest tiniest childhood. On the one hand, it strikes me as important to recognize this—to see that the pattern is not my fault, that there are causes and effects. On the other hand, you know what? It doesn’t really matter why. What matters is how I act on this new knowing and how it acts on me.

I don’t expect this pattern to disappear in a day or even a year. But I do expect that it will slowly fade, become quieter and less demanding. What I have now is the permission to let go of a tremendous weight. Already I feel lighter, if not entirely free.

Copyright © Amy Gutman. All rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “Pattern recognition

  1. Thank you for this post. My takeaway is this: Over many years, I’ve been led to believe from various sources that success is simply a matter of hard work, hustle, and taking advantage of every opportunity. Build a better mousetrap and the world beats a path to your door, right? Well, now that I’m living in Plan B Nation, I’ve been wondering what all my hard work, hustle, and chasing of opportunities was for, and I’m feeling that it was all to get people to give me things (jobs, promotions, etc.) they didn’t want to give me. I’ve already begun to discount or dismiss the “work harder” school of thought. But what next? Where does one go to find people willing to give, even seeking one out (for one’s talents, character, etc.)?

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Matthew–and I totally empathize with where you’re coming from. For me, it’s really about experimenting–seeing what does and doesn’t work. Also, finding communities (virtual & real) of people who sort of serve as breadcrumbs (that sounds weird but stay with me) that lead you forward in what feels like a healthy grounded direction. Again, it’s not always clear what this is. Some of the things that have helped me most–for example, moving to a new community, starting this blog–where big risks/uncertainties at the start. There’s lots of trial and error, and we all need boatloads of self-compassion. If you haven’t checked out Havi Brook’s Fluent Self blog, I think it’s one excellent resource. Good luck–and keep me posted!

  2. I honor this and have felt this tension and release too. I have been listening to Deepak Chopra’s Soul of Healing affirmations and two are about not resisting and loving everyone. I have experimented with trying to love & not resist with people who don’t want to give me anything (for whatever reason – they are busy, don’t like me or, or can’t due to their own self-defeating behaviors). I am working with the affirmation, “I must love you in a different way.” That way I do not resist, I do love, and I don’t love in ways that never helped anyway and won’t help now (due to the other person not wanting it). But if someone has a better idea, please let me know. (I am trying to live the challenge of “Calm Wonder” that Amy wrote about in January and finding myself changing in positive ways.)

    • Thanks for these thoughts, Allegra–and I love the concept of “loving in a different way.”

      One of the things that I’ve found useful recently is reflecting on questions–here for example, I find myself mulling over “*how* could I love X in a different way?” The questions seem to help expand and open my perspective.

  3. Very interesting, my friend. We’ll have to discuss this more “irl.” Since I have been working with the dating coach, I have been thinking a lot about patterns (like how I love to fantasize at the expense of looking objectively at a person and his values).

    • Yes! I’ll look forward to it; as always, much to discuss. So glad we managed to Roost it briefly during your last visit.

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