Breaking Habitual Patterns

Posted On June 9, 2019

(excerpt from The Polyamory Toolkit)

We mention a few times in this book that there are times when we have had a partner tell us something and we did not respond as our best self.

One of the big ones for me was when I found out one partner had slept with someone new after she and I had been together at a party and although this was expected – they planned to spend the night together – I was out in the parking lot and, via the phone, screaming at them in a rage. 

(Later) I genuinely wondered – why did I react that way? I should not have been surprised. I get being upset or even angry, but in a rage?

It wasn’t until later that I found out about habitual patterns, and a way to escape them. I’ve explored them from both a psychological view (an aspect of cognitive behavioral therapy) but am much more comfortable explaining from the Buddhist perspective and the works of Ken McLeod or Pema Chödrön. It comes down to the same thing. But let me start at the beginning.

A habitual pattern is a mechanism of reacting to life. Sometimes they work, but more often than not, they don’t serve us anymore. Because they happen without thinking based on who we were, instead of who we are.

Have you ever found yourself screaming at a person who cut you off in traffic? Or making a biting remark to someone who shared some news? Or any course of action that you felt like you didn’t have control of…and that you feel doesn’t really reflect who you are. These may well be habitual patterns that are ingrained in you. From a polyamory perspective, I easily identify jealousy as a habitual pattern. Mentally there is no reason for me to be reacting with jealousy. I am polyamorous, I have many partners, and I like it that my partners have partners. Yet, I find out they have a new flame, and my initial reaction is a grumpy “oh great another new person”. This is a pattern that I learned from monogamous days and it no longer serves me.

So, how do you reprogram them? First, understand that hear about new partner to screaming ‘How could you do that to me!’ has many steps between the two. Five steps to be precise. Let’s look at them.

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The Polyamory Toolkit

 A book that focuses on specific tools people can use to address the common issues and deeper aspects of a polyamorous relationship. This work includes topics such as: Jealousy, Compersion – finding joy in your partners’ joy, Communication, Mitigating Triggers, Creating a Solid Foundation, and so much more.

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