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Unmasking Unhealthy Patterns

Hey Friends,

I’m finally getting a chance to send out my July Newsletter. Seems like this summer is flying by way too quickly. July’s blog tackles something a bit heavy. My hope is for it to be eye opening in relation to unhealthy behavior patterns. If we can name them we can begin to change them. Many times we just remain stuck in them and hope no one finds out.

breaking the chain image

The first step to changing a pattern is to question it. Why do I do it? What does it give to me or do for me? To be quite honest, I was struggling to send this one out. I usually like to be encouraging and upbeat but I also like to speak the truth when it needs to be spoken.

If you want to change a behavior, you have to question it. You do not just fall into patterns. They have a root cause, a reason why you first chose that behavior and then continued choosing it. Change requires understanding how you got there. Once you begin to make sense of that, you can then discover some new, more healthy, effective choices to soothe or comfort your “why I do what I do”. It’s not easy but you have to engage your brain, your higher thinking to be able to replace the old knee jerk reactions you’ve been used to living with. This is good news.

Most dysfunctional patterns are just coping mechanisms.They are used to manage the emotional upheaval we are (or were) feeling. Healing Care.Org defines Dysfunctional Behavior as:

“Anything used to defend against, hide, or mask pain; behaviors that we allow as substitutes in lieu of having genuine needs met; and unhealthy reactions to being hurt.”

Since they are hard to spot on your own or even walk through the healing process by yourself , I suggest working with someone or a group, who is able to navigate this with you. After coaching for over 15 years now, my new saying is “It takes a village to be an adult”. No one needs to go it alone.

So what are some of the questions we can ask ourselves?

You can begin with :

Do I try to silence my inner pain with:

  • Work, sexual addictions, alcohol, food, shopping, drugs, sleeping?

Do I try to protect myself with

  • Distraction, anger, isolation, control, blame, denial?

Do I substitute satisfying my real needs with

  • Unhealthy relationships, people pleasing, performance addiction, popularity, manipulation, academics, career?

When I’m hurt, do I :

  • Blame, Criticize, reject others, shame myself or others, self-abuse, slander?

Do I try to escape my pain with any of these things?

  • Workaholism, being a control freak, chronic problems to get attention, shopping addiction, eating disorder, approval addict, obsessive cleaning, alcohol use or abuse, gambling?

Remember we are talking about patterns, not a one time indulgence of a behavior (but be careful, habits are formed one act at a time). If you are bound to unhealthy behaviors, you can break free. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been going on. There is hope. God didn’t create us to live in bondage. You can be healed, set free and feel whole. There are better ways of handling your hard feelings, instead of escaping or numbing them. That’s a short term fix for a long term situation that will absolutely bite you, if not kill you in the long run. You don’t have to hide in shame or continue to let it control you. You have a choice, though it may not feel like that at the moment. This is not an easy subject nor an easy fix, but it will absolutely be worth the effort. You're worth it. Your life is worth it. The first step is asking some hard questions with honest answers. You got this!

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