I was reminded by my dear friend today a quote that I’ve heard many many times, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” – Albert Einstein
Ever notice how we tend toward similar thought patterns: I’m messy, I’m artistic, I’m smart, it’s my fault, I’m strong, I’m beautiful, I’m not worthy, I’m old, I’m athletic, I’m a good/bad mom, I’m ________? These stories about ourselves are thick and drive many aspects of our lives. Imagine having a story pattern: I’m not worthy. So in your relationships you might be more willing to settle for someone who isn’t right for you and/or not treating you well. In your worklife you might not ask for what you deserve to be compensated. You might not even think you are worthy of your own dreams. Or imagine if your story pattern was: I’m a failure. Then, anything you began you’d believe you were going to fail before you even started.
Rather than pausing and considering what is real and true versus what story pattern we are bringing to our lives, we have a tendency to medicate and run toward the exit door. We tend toward certain behaviors and patterns: fighting with our partner again and again, shopping excessively, being walked all over by someone, reaching for the bottle of wine (or 4), having a bowl of ice cream (or the whole carton), or whatever the pattern/addiction is. We worry and fret over whether our pattern will happen (again), then we have a moment where it does and then we are sad, mad, ashamed it happened again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. The cycle itself is an addiction. Many of us have become addicted to playing out these cycles of insanity in our lives, trapped by the repetition of what plays out in our minds and hearts. We can more easily see these cycles in others but not often as easily in ourselves, even though they cause us great pain, shame and guilt within. These cycles could carry on for the next 10, 20, 50 years of our lives.
We can miss opportunities to feel into what’s possible-a sense of co-creation with others and with the flow of life. We can miss an opportunity to connect with loved ones and friends. We can miss the opportunity to connect with our future soul mate. We can miss opportunities to thrive in our career. We can miss opportunities to save our marriages, our relationships with our children, our parents, our friends, our colleagues, etc. We can miss opportunities to follow our own hearts deepest callings.
How can we stop the insanity and simply be more present in our lives for moments that are real and true? Or at least loosen our grip around these stories and patterns a little bit. For example, starting something and being open to how it will work out versus deciding it will fail. Or entering into a relationship believing a story: I am worthy of someone’s love.
Though it can feel difficult (sometimes very difficult) to reflect on our stories, consider how much more difficult it could be to live our whole life (or even a significant part of it) within one of these cycles. The cost can be very high, and these stories, patterns, cycles are taking us from the very thing it is that we want deep in our heart of hearts.
For me, the many practices of yoga help me see my stories and patterns. Over the years, I’ve applied some of these tools and I’m sure I’ve misapplied, drifted in and drifted out of using these tools. Rather than beating myself up for my stories/patterns (which is another common pattern), these yoga practices encourage us to bring a big sense of compassion to ourselves (ahimsa). That we can see (svadyaya) our patterns without judgment and instead for how they keep us from finding what our hearts are yearning for (sankalpa). The physical practices (asana), the breath practices (pranayama), and moments of pause, concentration and meditation (dyana), support us in being able to see more clearly. Rather than seeing our lives through our story pattern or being stuck in a cycle of behavior, we are able to let go of old ideas, notions, stories and patterns. We can support ourselves in presencing into what it is that matters most to us and look out with clearer eyes and connect in with what’s right here exactly as it is, without a layer we bring to it.
So the next time if feels like ground hog day in your thinking or in your patterns, ask yourself: What is it that I really want? And, is this supporting me in that? If not, you can choose to do something different.
My wish for all beings is to pause, connect into their hearts, see clearly what matters and what doesn’t and meet life with that at the forefront.
Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu