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Mistakes Versus Patterns

What's the difference between mistakes and patterns? A mistake is something everyone makes. It happens once, perhaps twice, but it’s something you are able to learn from and stop repeating. On the other hand, a pattern, is an ingrained way of behaving which doesn’t go away to easily.

It's Just A Mistake

Everyone is guilty of making mistakes here and there as we live in an imperfect world. There is no surefire way to accomplish anything without the risk of something going wrong. Think about all the systems that exist today, designed to teach you the most effective way to complete a process. Even using step by step instructions mistakes are still bound to happen. Consider relationships, where most people don’t have a process, making mistakes happens much more frequent. But making the mistake isn’t the problem. It’s the inability to acknowledge you made the mistake, apologize for it, and show your sincerity by not repeating it again.

Mistakes range from big to small. Depending on how severe it is, even if it only happens once, doesn’t remove the fact that consequences may accompany it. If it was something small the consequences can be easily managed. However, if it was something big, the consequences could be painful. Dating is a perfect place to see how someone responds when you make mistakes. And understand, that even if unintentional, a mistake can still associate an emotion with it. Do not assume that because it was an accident someone doesn’t have the right to feel the way they do. Especially for the big ones.

Here is a process you can use to try and deal with the hurt of your partners mistake:

1. Drain as much anger as possible without your partner present. It’s crucial for you and your partner to talk. You don’t, however, want to say or do something which could damage your relationship.

- Do the “write a letter” exercise from our earlier lesson. Remember it’s to express yourself and your feelings to get it out, you will not present (or mail) this letter.

- Talk to an objective third party person, someone unbiased. The best sources for this are therapists, coaches, support groups, crisis hotline, or a spiritual leader. Friends and family (not always) tend to lean toward your side, and has the potential to get them to see your partner in a negative light.

2. Write what you would like to say. This is the same as having a plan of talking points. Sometimes it can get jumbled up in our heads, so writing it down gives you clear plan of action. Also seeing it outside of your head can help you refine the points you want to make.

3. Sit down and talk. Put yourself in an environment free from all distractions, and be able to focus solely on the conversation at hand. Be empathetic and realize, that again, what may be minimal to one person, could be grave to the other. This conversation is about understanding, not proving anything.

Now, patterns of behavior are repetitive ways of acting which are so ingrained that you do them without even thinking about them most of the time. And, being a part of your subconscious is why it’s so hard to change these behaviors. In fact, when you try to stop doing them you may even feel discomfort. As a minor example, let’s look at nail biting. If you consciously told yourself that you weren’t going to bite your nails for a full day, after biting them everyday for years, it would be challenging. And the chances are, as soon as your mind slips away, or your attention leaves the thought of NOT biting your nails, your going to find yourself doing it.

The good thing is behavioral patterns aren’t just present when it comes to bad things, there are are also tons of positive patterns a person can have as well. Working out, meditation, and eating healthy are a few examples. You also have neutral patterns, that are neither good or bad, but aid in you getting through your day. Those are things like having to have a cup of coffee before work.

But, we can not overlook the fact that there are indeed bad habits as well. Some of them include, but are not limited to the following:

1. Emotional abuse. Belittling, demeaning, excessive, or cruel teasing, sarcasm, and eye-rolling are all included in emotional abuse. These behaviors can be signs of insecurity in the one doing them and are painful for the one receiving them. They are extreme signs of disrespect.

2. Physical or sexual abuse. These often times require intervention. Some people have been able to overcome these behaviors by committing themselves to working with a trained professional. If you are the victim, know that you deserve way better. If you are the perpetrator, get help.

3. Addictions. Addictions can include chemical, alcohol, gambling, sex, rage, shopping, internet, food, and more. Addictions are behavioral and physiological. There are emotional consequences to a challenge in the brains response to the addiction.

Reflection Questions:

1. List two or your daily routines which make your life easier for you.

2. What pattern of behavior do you have which is destructive to you or another?

3. List one daily routine of your partner.

4. Does your partner have a pattern of behavior which is harmful to them or you?

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