UN-SEEING: Old Patterns

UN-SEEING: Old Patterns

How many times have you heard the same old story from different mouths?  How often have you encountered situations that feel like the same-old ones over and over again?


“Gambler” by Gil via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Gamblers and scammers call them “tells.”  They say these situations and those moves are the signs that something or other will probably go wonky or has already gone aglay.

Often the “tells” do work because most people are not that different from each other.  We all react similarly to many everyday situations we might encounter.

So you jump one way or maybe another, and then you discover that you were wrong in the assumptions that you made.  Your feelings are leading you down some old road that you know is a dead end.

What you thought was happening is not even close to the real.  Because of the old stories that you’ve lived, you’ve attributed motives or agendas to other people that are just not so.

But, because of your erroneous reading of a situation, you have shaped this latest encounter into yet another iteration of your old story, the one that has happened before, the one you see happening again.

And things do go wonky in exactly the same way they did the last four or five times you’ve done this dance.  The players in this new game are different.  The circumstances are similar enough, but they are not the same.

Somehow, you are getting sucked into the same crummy story again and you’re making the same old moves again that you know are not going to work.


If you will stop and look at your reactions to the various situations you encounter that you invariably handle badly, it’s likely you’ll be able to see the emotions and the assumptions you are carrying that encourage the same dilemmas to develop that you find hard to resolve.

These stories keep happening in your life over and over again for a reason.  Maybe that reason is you.  Your old emotions and assumptions color how you see any situation.  They are filters that you look through, like colored glasses that cover your mind’s eye.

When you find yourself “recognizing” the start of yet another junk old story, it could be that you are really looking through the filters you’ve developed over time that are affecting how you are looking at the situation you are facing.  Maybe what you are seeing is not what is really there.


If you do not like where your old filters have taken you before, if you’d like to see a different ending to the same old story, it may be time to question HOW you are looking at this new situation.

Questions you might like to ponder are these:

  1. Are these emotions I am feeling and these assumptions I am holding valid?  Are they appropriate?
  2. Are the reactions that my feelings and my assumptions produce in the other people in this game helpful in solving this problem we are having?
  3. If not, then what other emotions and assumptions might I want to explore with these other people instead?
  4. What reactions would those new emotions and assumptions engender?

Questioning your default settings is a valuable exercise that may produce other, new-to-you ways of seeing.  In order to explore these new thoughts, however, you will have to let go of your old way of standing.  This is a very hard thing to do.

“Whose Brain Is Bigger???” by Craig Dyke via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Your old dinosaur-brain is sitting there telling you that danger threatens and you’ve got to fight or run if you can’t win.

Dinosaurs probably were not so good at sitting around thinking through things and talking things over.  Mostly they stomped the other guy or they ran like hell.  (There aren’t too many dinosaurs around any more.)

Challenging your habitual reactions to a situation can produce more interesting ideas.  What has to happen, though, is you have to question your old assumptions and challenge yourself and your set patterns.

These old patterns are powerful.  You will have to challenge that power.  They are authoritative, perhaps distilled from years of experience.  You will have to challenge that authority.

Your motivations when your old dinosaur-brain is in charge are all about keeping yourself from getting hurt.  That old brain turns everything into life-and-death and do-or-die.  It’s really good at running panic scenarios in your head.

You have to challenge those old stories and look for a new perspective:  What if this situation isn’t life-and-death?  What if nobody has to die?

Deconstructing your core beliefs helps you see what’s under there and what makes you fight or run.  It’s a hard thing to do because you’re revisiting old thoughts that make hard-to-break loops in your head and then there’s the panic that rises up whenever the loops start happening.   It is not a fun place to be.


Talk to the Hand by Bruce Denis via Flickr [CC BY-ND-NC 2.0]
Talk to the Hand by Bruce Denis via Flickr [CC BY-ND-NC 2.0]
One great way to challenge your calcified old thought-patterns is to write out your thoughts with your non-dominant hand.  (If you’re right-handed, use your left hand to write about some thought pattern you are challenging.  If you’re left-handed, use your right hand.  If you’re ambidextrous, maybe you have to try doing mirror-writing like Leonardo da Vinci.)

Getting your thoughts down on paper helps you see whether your thoughts are actually a true reading of the situation you are facing.  Maybe this situation is just bringing up leftover feelings and old fossils of assumptions you’ve made about the world instead.

Doing this exercise and examining what is happening inside you is like being a football player watching old videos of the football plays your team made in other games.

  1. What moves worked in your past stories?  Which did not?
  2. How is this situation similar to past ones?  How is it different?
  3. Did you like the results you got on your last go-’round?
  4. If not, how could you do it different this time?

The process does take time.  You’re going back over old trails and trying to find a starting place to make a new trail.  It is not easy.


My own last step is to put aside all the thoughts I’ve written down with my non-dominant hand.  I sleep on them.  Just before I fall asleep I ask myself, “What is happening here?”  When I wake up, I make a poem that helps to make some kind of sense about what I am thinking and feeling and doing in a situation that confuses me.

When I do that, the way often gets clearer.  I can see what is going on in my world and sometimes I can find a better way to deal with it that doesn’t start another round of the same-old.  It is a very good thing….

Making that poem is optional.  However, the steps for getting to the point where you’re ready to entertain new thoughts is not.


Maui Sunrise – Wailea by slack12 via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Another take on meeting these challenges and dealing with life-situations is embedded in this IPS (Inner Peace Symptom)….

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that you have to DO your way back to feeling.  [Challenges that obstruct you help to deepen your convictions if you continue to work your way around them, over them, under them and through them.  It’s a good thing.]

Here’s another poem:


 There really is a difference

‘Tween going wide and going deep.

You have to learn which one to do, when,

If you’re ever going to get some sleep.


Wide takes you wandering

Tasting this, touching that,

It opens up your heart.

It makes you grab your hat.


The noise and the sparkle piles on up

And sends you spinning round and round

It makes you mad and dizzy

And you can lose touch with the ground.


You fly, you dream, you crash, you burn.

You wonder what, why, who and how

As you hoist yourself up by the seat of your pants

And try for yet another wow.


Deep can drill you right into the ground,

Or send you over the edge, all willing,

Ready to free-dive through the void

Even though the temperature’s chilling.


Wide’s the way to do the whirl,

To grab for gusto, shoot the curl.

It’s the baby dragon dance, and as you soar

(Before you crash), the wondrous world will unfurl.


If you go deep, the universe dances

And the lights in Indra’s Net flash and flare,

Responding to the moves you’re making

As you dive into the Everywhere.


You need them both, these strategies,

The wise guys always say,

If you learn to do them well,

They promise you can play.


But, be warned, my friend,

It never ends and it never comes for free.

Expect to get smashed, get shucked and jived,

Expect to wander, lost at sea.


And after all that…

After all of all of that,

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll get some

Small inkling ’bout where it’s all at.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Himalayan Hills, Nepal by Michael Foley via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]



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16 thoughts on “UN-SEEING: Old Patterns

  1. wagreatstuff says:

    I like your idea of challenging the way we use to think by writing our thoughts with the non-dominant hand.
    I have never thought of this before and I think it is a brilliant idea. Will definitely be doing this as soon as I finish this commenting.
    This article will be useful to some of my friends and I will forward this link. Hopefully, they will benefit from some of your suggestions.

    1. I’m glad the post was helpful to you, w. Thanks for your visit and for passing on the link. Please do come again!

  2. Hello,
    I have understood that you try to change old and recurring behavior patterns which also occur to me. For example, I randomly fall in love with a wonderful woman but after a short time of getting to knwo each other, she doesnt dare to do the next step. I will try to use my weaker hand and write a poem to put it under my pillow!

    1. Hey Fabi:

      Thanks for your visit and your comment. The non-dominant hand writing should be a cool experiment….

      Please come again.

  3. The patterns described in this article are very common. I can say that I have had some fight with my thought patterns a lot of times. And I have tried to think outside of the box but it is pretty hard to do so. We should not react right on the spot because our first reaction is more likely to be wrong just because of the negative events we have been through. I have tried the exercises with the thoughts in writing and it does clear your mind. Actually I try to write my thought every day after waking up. It helps.

    1. Hey SaM:

      Thanks for the visit and the comment. Please come again….

  4. H. Erin Nelson says:

    Hello! Beautifully worded thoughts! As a writer, I have my whole life experiences written down. I journal and blog with deep inspiration and motivation, pressing me on to my next ideas. I blog daily on my website and within the WA community. My thoughts set me apart from the world while I’m in them, contemplating my next moments of intrigue. So, yes, poems of life help to live each simple day to the best of my ability—and to make each moment count!

    1. Hey Erin:

      Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  It sounds like you’re really into the writing.  Good on ya!

      Please do come again!

  5. A beautiful poem at the end of the post.

    I’ve always heard of people telling me that left-handed people and right-handed people think problems in different ways because they utilize different parts of the brains more. Right-handers will be more logical in their thinking and left-handers are usually more creative in their solutions.

    I guess this is the reason why writing with a different hand work miracles!

    (PS: I love writing poems too, especially when waves of emotions just overwhelm me. I find it so much easier to pen things down.)

    1. Hey Rachel:

      Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it.

      Do try writing poetry with your non-dominant hand.  (You may not be able to read the writing so well, but it really can result in some amazing stuff!)

      Please do come again.

  6. I think for a poem write this is a great article! I think you could get school and colleges to use your site for teaching purposes. The pictures are what kept me intrigued in your content. This is a a interesting way to learn how to write a poem, Some people do learn this way and thats okay. I also like the set up of the website. I definitely think if it was me writing a poem I would need a template!

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Chelsea.  I find them very interesting.  I’m glad you enjoyed the post and the website.

      I’m not sure what a template for a poetry write would look like.  Every one of mine is custom-made.  There are, of course, traditional (and contemporary) poetry forms and formulae that have been used for centuries.  I have always gotten tangled up in them myself.  Hmmm…..points to ponder.

      Please do come again.

  7. LineCowley says:

    What a thought provoking post on unseeing old patterns and then a beautiful poem. I particularly like the part “You fly, you dream, you crash, you burn | You wonder what, why, who and how” 

    We often make the mistake of trying the same thing over and over, without achieving success, instead of learning from our mistakes and trying different ways. 

    I will certainly try the challenge of writing down my thoughts with the less dominant hand.

    1. Hey LineCowley:

      Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I am pleased you enjoyed my post.

      Please do come again.

  8. Oh, how beautiful and intelligent. You are shedding light on the human being’s limitation in a way full of philosophy and literature, like some piece of an artistic portrait that one feels happy contemplating. 

    I loved how you approached the concept by giving sound solutions, above all understanding our limitations.

    Nobody knows enough to solve any problem completely. By acknowledging this, one will have more energy to focus on the resources available and use them to be happier.

    1. Jeeda, thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  You’ve expanded on the points brought up in the post beautifully.

      Please do come again.

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