Do you wish that in some ways your life would be different? It’s almost a cliche, to say it. After all, we’ve heard it said so many times in so many ways!
“To create positive change we need to choose the unfamiliar.”
“We need to choose the new to have the new.”
Yep, sure, but how?? Let’s zoom in on that.
We do this.
We put things we encounter into boxes. So, we encounter something potentially new, but assume too readily that it is the same-old same-old. This same-old helps us predict our lives, to know what to do. It helps us maintain patterns, routines, familiarity, structure, tradition, expertise. This same-old is not actually there. Rather, we impose it through a conditioned response.
By labeling something as “familiar territory” we are making it into familiar territory. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not so much.
So the key to breaking out of a pattern is to stop doing this familiar thing. Stop applying the “been there, done that” label. Give up your knowing, your expertise, your expectations, your familiarity with what you perceive to be happening. Right in that moment, when you are overlaying your “been there, done that”, stop yourself and see that the moment is unfamiliar, it is new. Be willing to say: ‘I don’t know what this will bring, I cannot predict it’ (all we can predict is the kind of future that is a repetition of the past) and then we see that we have endless opportunities to break out of any pattern. The moment we stop imposing expectations is the moment we are creating an opening into something new.
You don’t want to break all your patterns, it would be disorienting, it would be disastrous. You just want to take that pattern that is holding you back most and examine when it is clouding your vision. Catch yourself when the “here we go again” is happening, and reverse. Go back to that moment BEFORE you knew it would be the same all over again, and see what else might be possible, or rather, consider that all you know is this one single familiar response, and all around it is the unknown. Stay in the unknown, stay with the unknown, and see what becomes possible.
There seem to be two mechanisms we can use to make decisions. One is recognition: part of us is delighted to encounter that which seems familiar, no matter how soul-crushing it may be. The other mechanism is to follow that which feels inspirational and exciting.
It’s a recognizable cultural conditioning: we are in fact, trained, to be conformist. It’s a biological thing, it’s a family thing, it’s a survival thing, it’s a government thing, it’s a tribe thing, it’s a human thing, it’s a normal thing and a necessary thing. Yet to choose only that leaves us deeply dissatisfied.