In this second blog exploring themes from Karen Atkinson’s book about Compassionate Mindful Inquiry, I wanted to reflect for a moment or two on the importance of giving voice to the patterns we notice within our experience.
We all have habitual ways of being, and thank goodness for that. Imagine if you had to start from nothing in each moment, retaining no information about what has happened in the past or the contexts in which you are functioning. That would be over-whelming indeed!
The thing is with habits, that they become unconscious and we stop noticing them. This happens with all kinds of habits. Do you know exactly how you wash yourself in the shower? Do you have to think about it each time? Probably not, its outside awareness, just something you do.
Thought patterns can be like this too. And feelings. Habitual ways of responding, thinking, feeling, acting...they are part of our make up. And as long as they serve us, that’s great.
When things are happening that do not work for you, it’s time to get curious and shine a light on what’s going on. As you come to notice the repeating patterns in your experience, you can name them. You might say ‘ah ha...I see you black and white thinking’ or ‘that’s a catastrophic thought, I’m thinking of the worst case again.’ when you name the pattern, it loses its power. It becomes less about the specific content of what you just said, and more about the pattern of thinking that underlies it. If you have a tendency to catastrophise generally, you then know that these worst case scenarios are just what your mind habitually does, rather than something to buy into and worry about.
So, if you can name it, you can tame it! Give it a try, and let me know how you get on.