Breaking Bad Patterns

A business acquaintance said to me, “I just knew today was going to be another one of those days.” Our conversation continued with this person communicating everything that went wrong at work the day before and the meeting they were totally unprepared for as a result. They had hoped for a less stressful and frustrating day today, but when they spilled an entire cup of coffee, in the car, on the way to work they knew the negative cycle was continuing. This new day was just going to be an extension of yesterday. And from the way they talked I’m pretty sure the anxiety, aggravation and negativity I heard in their voice did nothing to alter their thinking or help prepare them for their meeting.

With days like this (I am pretty sure we all experience something like it occasionally) we need to find ways to open up and break out of this pattern of thinking. I can’t tell you the best way for you to do it, but I can tell you the good news, we all can do it. It is a skill that we can learn and nurture. None of us are ever at the mercy of our genes or the negative neural pathways and unhelpful memories we may have developed over time. When things go wrong we have a choice. We can go with it as my business friend was or we can change it.

Science tells us that there is this phenomenon called neuroplasticity. It is the so called muscle building element of the brain. It was once thought that the brain was static, except for our critical developmental periods. What science has discovered, however, is the brain continually changes in response to our lifestyle, environment and thinking. With every repetition of the same thought or emotion, we reinforce an existing neural pathway, but with each new and better thought we can begin to create a new and better way of being.

The truth is we can be as confident and optimistic as we choose to be in the midst of any event, situation and circumstance. Many people buy into the myth that something like spilling a cup of coffee first thing in the morning sets the tone for a bad day; destined for more unanticipated problems and negativity. Despite what any of us may have come to believe in the past the ability to think that everything that happens is good is as simple as choosing to think this way. And when we do realize that the thoughts we entertain are our choice we instantly empower ourselves to overcome any situation or pattern of thinking that creates judgments, worry, doubt, fear, or confusion.

Monitoring, training and setting our thinking for our good is a lifelong practice. When we’re not supervising our thoughts, they have a tendency of veering back into fear and worry. One of the simplest and most profound ways we can align our thinking each day is to practice setting an intention every morning when we wake up. There is an ancient Christian warning paraphrased, “Every morning we arise afresh in new Light do not let morning demons; yesterday’s worries and grievances return to poison the new day.” I rephrased this into an affirmation that I repeat, particularly when I realize early on that I’m starting to rehash the problems of yesterday. It goes, “New light, new beginning, yesterday’s poison buried, empowered thinking born afresh.”

It’s a simple intention. And science confirms, just a thought like this repeated frequently enough leads to positive change and huge dividends in everything from feelings to performance.

About Bud Hart

Work experience prior to starting Hart Group includes PBH Enterprises, employment with the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission and the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority. Private sector experience includes 10 years managing operations, finances and property for a prominent Boston-based company, and business and financial operations for a Wellesley, Mass. start-up. I hold a Master’s degree from Boston University with a concentration in urban planning and administration, an undergraduate degree in planning and landscape architecture from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Erickson International College Professional Coach Certification program
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