Wednesday, 16 September 2015


I've just posted a very short YouTube video entitled Paths. A reminder that sometimes following the paths others have taken is the best option - especially if we want to avoid the nettles!

The vlog, or perhaps my reaction to it, reminds me about what a lot of my work as a coach entails - helping others understand the patterns they run that support them, and identifying and releasing those patterns that don't.

In other words many of our sources of greatest challenge can be found in a pattern that has us doing the opposite to what makes most sense!

I use 'patterns' as a term a lot but just in case we could be at cross purposes - the best way of describing patterns is as a set of learnt behaviours we use when in certain situations ie the alarm goes off and we do X,Y and then Z every day, or the set routines we use to do the work we do everyday, or clean the house, drive the car, or the buttons that get pressed and the predeterminable reactions we have every time someone mentions A to us or does K (think mums and clothes on your bedroom floor as a great example :-)).

That is when we run a pattern we no longer choose what to do next - we just do it - because that's who we are and that's what we do. (To find out more about their hold on us I wrote a blog earlier in the year about recurring patterns)

Sometimes even having a conversation with someone about them changing such a pattern can be met with much resistance "I'm me, why should I change, no one is going to make me change how I do what I do!". The answer in this blog on that subject reminds us: we don't have to change if we're getting the outcome we want - however if we're not getting the outcome we want then we can either keep trying to open a locked door by kicking it, or we can find the key and open it!

This vlog was interesting because it turned on its head the advice I'd often be sharing here - instead of forging your own path I'm suggesting sometimes it's better to just follow everyone else!! Better because in that situation it's the most logical, and the more effective and efficient means of achieving our goal.

I don't know about you but I react to such advice, and I mean react. As I now reflect on being told to follow others I am laughing at the inevitability of me then metaphorically opting to traipse through the nettles! 

Laughing at least means that a week after videoing the blog that the insight is at least starting to land. Yes Alison if you spent less time resisting following others and exclaiming "no one's going to tell me what to do" you might have energy left to do what you want to do when it really counts!

It's as if our patterns become synonymous with our identify - that is we link 'how we do things' (our patterns) to 'who we are' (our identity). I'm only me if I do something this particular way - in fact I'm not at all me if I achieve the outcome a different way, and especially if that way is how others do it!

Our values then get involved, and start to prescribe ways we're going to get a value met. Which means suddenly a recurring pattern becomes the only way we can get a value met, and therefore helps to explain why we're so resistant to changing it. If I think the only way to achieve freedom is to head off into the nettles I'll keep on doing it! (The link is to a blog where I tried to shake off the recurring pattern around not making decisions for fear of losing freedom.)

Just repeating a recurring pattern therefore might not be the best option - unless of course you have some dock leaves handy for when you get stung!

What buttons are being pressed for you today, and in what way are you forgetting that how you do something is not linked to your identity, and that there are numerous ways your values can be met?

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