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The Definition of Insanity…





If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then clearly there are hordes of insane women and men out there. Myself included. I have only recently begun to break out of the mold that had encased me for so long. We get stuck into these mindless patterns of what we think will work, but are not working. So why do we do the same dumb ish? Why do we go back to toxic partners? Exhibit the same behavior? Say the same things, worry about the same nonsense, even if it’s not what we want for ourselves?

Selective Memory:

There’s retrospect for one. Retrospect is an amazing thing. It’s never the same as what you prospect, expect, or actually… spect. The experiences you go through in hindsight are almost always seen through rose -colored glasses, blown up as more extreme than was actually the case OR the severity is often forgotten or underappreciated. We forget just how much something hurt, just how much someone did, just how difficult something was. Pain becomes diluted by time and deluded by mind, and we suddenly think that it’s okay to go back or to do the same thing we just did. We slide right back into it, now with slightly more paranoia, pushing those knowing thoughts way back into our head, and instead selecting the same thing that stung us in the first place.

The Invincibility of an Idea:

Once you get an idea in your head of how you want things to be, how things could possibly be, and you cultivate that idea, you feed it, you live with it, you love it, it becomes part of you, it becomes almost impossible to let that idea go. Even after it doesn’t work, you are so consumed with the idea, you keep trying ways to make it work, but it simply isn’t working. But instead of letting it go, you make small adjustments, or just simply hope that something finally will give. Sometimes we can completely ignore the reality of a circumstance because we are so wedded to an idea in our head. And while this can be transformative and powerful when driven by the right impulse, it can cause an eternal well of pain if it’s not.

Patterns:

As humans, we gravitate towards what pleases us and what is comfortable. We become comfortable with known behaviors whether they are good for us or bad. As we grow, we copy the behaviors we see modeled for us. We repeat the things, positive or negative, that get us the attention we crave, or the immediate result we desire. Often the long term effects are too attenuated to be considered. We end up considering only our ‘comfort’ in the moment and thus we form predictable patterns.

Children are a perfect example. When working with young kids, I hold them accountable for their behavior through a visible behavior chart. There are always some who end up low on the chart and get so upset, time and time again! I shake my head as I watch them and say “You are responsible for where you are, if you don’t want to be low on the chart, DON’T DO THE BEHAVIORS THAT GET YOU THERE!” And then I hear that little voice inside. My conscience. Saying, “Exactly.” For exactly what I told the child applies to myself. I can’t be mad at not having certain things, or experiencing certain difficulties, when I myself did the behaviors that got me there. Simple as that.

Patterns are reliable predictors of behavior. We all know that friend we have that complains about their relationship over and over, always the same type of complaint, saying the same types of things about their partner, but then they never leave. And each time you roll your eyes internally because you know, they are wasting their breath. You know they are talking smack and they are not really going to leave. And how do you know? Because it’s become a pattern. Just as their partner’s behavior is a pattern.

Overcoming Insanity:

To help cure selective memory, get in the practice of journaling about your experiences and feelings. Sometimes going back to read exactly what I went through is enough to remind me not to do the same thing. We often need fresh reminders from ours former self.

If something is not meant to be, let it go. It’s okay to have dreams and ideas, but try not to have expectations. Often we can bring about what we ultimately want, but usually not in the way we think. Learn to roll with life, let things go, and adapt.

Patterns of behavior can be the most difficult thing to break from. The longer the pattern goes on, the harder it becomes to re-habituate. How do you break from an old pattern, and form a healthier pattern?

• First, you have to be honest with yourself and be aware of what you’re pattern is. Observe yourself and your reactions and how they affect you. Don’t judge yourself. Everybody is the way they are for a reason.

• Next, isolate the behavior that is the culprit. What specific behavior is leading you to a negative outcome? What is the need or desire you are trying to fulfill by engaging in that behavior?

• Replace it with something new. What else can you do to fulfill the desire? Stop the thoughts in your head by replacing them with new thoughts. Stop your behavior by replacing it with alternative behavior. JUST DO IT! It’s hard and it takes practice to start a new pattern. They say it takes 3 weeks to establish a new habit. I’m not sure about that, but it does become easier. Commit yourself to it, and if you slip, just get back on it.

Unless you’re comfortable being insane. Which many people are. And probably the primary thing that keeps you insane IS other people. Don’t let them. Laugh, smile, and don’ let them touch you.




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