I have this thing. When I am faced with a situation that makes me angry but I don’t feel comfortable around the other person involved, I will simply do my best to ignore it. If this unfortunate interaction is in person, then I will suddenly go completely silent while hives appear on my neck and my ears turn red. If on the verge of tears, I will physically remove myself. On the phone? Then I will tell them I have to go. If this is mercifully through text then they probably won’t hear back from me for a long time.
I know. It’s not great. It’s definitely not mature and I can assure you that the issues rarely just go away on their own. Now you may be thinking what do I do if I am comfortable around the other person? Well that involves yelling and sarcasm. Lots of sarcasm. Yes, my angry, insecure inner child is a delight.
Why am I disclosing my poor argumentative skills? Well today’s reading about taking the win highlights the importance of breaking old patterns. It’s not easy and it may not happen every time but taking even a small step in the right direction is definitely a win.
My win today was in the form of responding to a text that I normally would have ignored. Was I honest and upfront about my feelings? No. Did I write back what I actually wanted to? Nope. Was that really a win? Yes and here’s why – I broke my pattern. I did something different. I can be happy about doing this one thing.
Breaking old patterns is an ongoing process that can have false starts, starts that revert you back to what you used to do, and even psychological withdrawals. Taibbi (2020) describes what these withdrawals can look like in Breaking Old Patterns? Expect Psychological Withdrawal. It’s basically a spiral of guilt, anxiety, and self-criticism, which honestly sounds awful. So why try? Because chances are, with your old patterns you already are experiencing some of that spiral plus no hope of that changing. The more little changes you start to make, the more you get used to doing things differently, and suddenly there isn’t second-guessing or guilt for making those changes.
It’s time to try something new – a new action or reaction that takes things into a different direction. Maybe you end up right where you would have anyway or maybe the situation becomes that much easier to handle.