Problems vs. Patterns

The old adage that says, “We are creatures of habit,” is so obviously true. But I am constantly reminded that we are also people of patterns—both good and bad. And so many of us do not, maybe never, realize our own patterns that we live by. Identifying those and becoming aware of them, though, can be a huge help in heading off everything from confusion to trouble to a meltdown.

Here are a few examples (purely fictitious):

Incapacitating Problem: Every year, I seem to go through a real struggle in my marriage. Identifying Pattern: It’s my second marriage and every March, when I always have a hard time, is the month my first wife and I split up.

Incapacitating Problem: Every year, I battle deep depression for at least a couple of weeks. Identifying Pattern: My dad died in November, the time frame where I’m depressed, and I never really dealt with his death.

Incapacitating Problem: Every year, around Christmas and the New Year, I battle my self-worth and feel like a failure. Identifying Pattern: Several years back, I got let go from a company I had invested a lot in, right at the Holidays.

This pattern paradigm can also explain why we do things that aren’t necessarily bad but we just don’t understand why we do what we do on such a regular basis. Here’s one example: “Every year in October I get car fever and start looking online, whether I buy one or not. The rest of the year, I don’t seem to care.” Pattern: The last 4 cars you owned over the past 15 years, you bought in October but you never realized it was always the same time of year.

See it? As men who aren’t in touch with connecting the dots of how we feel back to the root of what created the feelings to begin with, we can be completely puzzled by a very consistent pattern that we have created in our own hearts.

One of the best methods to gain maturity and wisdom is to connect our “why’s” to our “what’s.” Honestly, that’s what good counseling is—why do I do this what? But no one can help us accomplish this on a regular basis like the Holy Spirit, pointing out what we need to know when we delve into our pasts to ask, “Why do I feel this way?”

The Lord is the source of wisdom; knowledge and understanding come from his mouth. He gives good advice to honest people and shields those who do what is right. He makes sure that people are treated fairly. He watches over his loyal followers. If you listen to him, you will understand what is just and fair and how to do what is right. You will gain wisdom, and knowledge will bring you joy. Planning ahead will protect you, and understanding will guard you. —Proverbs 2:6-11 ERV



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