I once heard a Buddhist monk say: "Don't try to quit smoking... Smoke more mindfully! Slow down, really notice the sensations as you smoke... then you'll notice how unpleasant it feels and naturally you'll come to a place where you'll want to stop."
When you become present with your patterns, they begin to lose their power over you.
For example let's say we find ourselves wanting to pursue someone when there are a few red flags that they may be emotionally unavailable.
Here are 3 paths you could take:
1) Ignore your intuition and continue to play out your pattern of chasing - desired results unlikely!
2) Cut off the connection and look for another potential partner
3) Be present in the situation with curiosity. Ask yourself questions such as:
Is this a red flag or am I projecting my fears and my past onto this person? (Be really honest here - it could be either or a bit of both!)
Can I have an honest conversation with the other person to help inform my actions?
What impulses am I feeling that I know come from fear? Am I able to be in this situation in deep authenticity and use it as a learning opportunity or is there a call for me to back away and heal in solitude?
Does my intuition know the answer but I've been scared to admit it to myself? If I know this relationship isn't healthy for me, why am I staying? Do I feel guided to find out what unfolds organically or is there a trauma bond that is keeping me here that is asking me to 'go cold turkey?'
Navigate the situation guided by your inner knowing, seeking guidance when you feel 'stuck'.
Number 2 is a short term solution. It solves the immediate 'problem' of your painful feelings and it may absolutely be right for you to exit (always leave abusive situations ASAP). And if you don't explore why you felt/ acted as you did and release the stored trauma from the body and raise your consciousness then you'll likely end up repeating the same cycle again.
To use the above example:
Sometimes continuing to go on dates whilst doing the inner work, we notice more and more signs that the person's life vision or emotional maturity doesn't match the kind of relationship we want and deserve and we simply lose resonance with the idea of taking the connection further. When we are coming from a soul centred place we will respond authentically to their sharing (e.g. letting them know if we aren't on the same page about marriage, or that we don't really vibe with the song they showed us...) After hearing that we aren't into the same idea of a relationship, often the connection mutually fizzles. Or maybe the other person doesn't yet see or isn't willing to admit to themselves that you are incompatible... but by now we are deeply connected to our inner truth and we might feel such a strong compulsion in our body to let them know it won't work out, that it overrides our discomfort in doing so. It might feel reaaallly uncomfortable but as you do the inner work it becomes more uncomfortable to not honour your inner knowing and self love!
A great example of the inner work guiding us through our discomfort happened to me this summer. Now that I've been on my path for quite some time and cleared out a lot of the 'obvious, immediate stuff in my connections with others', every now and again I suddenly feel this 'ping' where I know that there is some unresolved energy from the past then I need to take care of - for example an apology, checking in with someone I haven't connected with in a while or sending someone a simple message of gratitude. In this case there was a soul connection that I experienced years ago where I never expressed how I felt - we did some skirting around there being an intense energy but had been on our own paths in no contact. I had felt that maybe we would have sychronistically bumped into each other somehow or he would have initiated the conversation (I realised later all the invitations I had had to offer my honesty but we both hadn't found the courage to be direct!). In that moment I knew that I needed to create the closure that had been eluding me and move into a new energy, through taking action and being the one to be vulnerable. It was one of the scariest things that I've ever done - my body was filled with anxiety and I had a kind of meltdown for about a month (as simultaneously I felt deep surrender and unconditional love and released so much stuck energy) before I was finally able to offer my truth and send the message.
It took all of my inner child reparenting skills and courage but I did it! I knew that I couldn't hold onto the old me, who hadn't found the bravery to be honest (especially when deep honesty was one of the qualities I desired in a relationship partner and I needed to be a match to that to receive it!). It was time for that version of me to die and time for the version of me that felt shame, insecurity, doubted her intuition and wanted to protect herself to die too.
Whenever I took a step closer to sending the message or talked about the immense soul love I felt to my friends, the Universe would shower me with synchronicity... and when I pushed the feelings away and tried to delay the message unfortunate events would happen and the synchronicities would drop away... the message was clear!
I was shaking like a leaf when I finally pressed send, but I was so glad I did it. Finally a weight was off my shoulders. I had now done everything in my integrity and I could let what would be, be.
As we move along our path, we become increasingly able to tolerate discomfort and choose the action that aligns with our intuition and self love.
Sometimes we stay dating someone as long as there are lessons to learn. We aren't sure if it could work out or maybe we know on paper or deep down that it isn't right, but we still feel a powerful pull towards this person. There are times when we are so deep in a codependent pattern and the relationship is lower vibrational and draining our energy - then we may be better off cutting the cord and walking away from the connection. And there are other times where the connection genuinely feels loving, where you are both working on being your best selves and maybe you don't know if it's right for forever, but it feels right to explore for right now - to lean into being present and working on yourself as the connection unfolds and finding out if your inner work brings you closer together and resolves your challenges or if it leads you to clarity that it's time to part ways.
E.g. I once had a past relationship that I knew deep down wasn't right... but we kept being drawn back together, trying to give it another go even though my inner knowing was telling me he wasn't my life partner. Speaking later as friends we admitted neither of us regretted the on-off experience. We had a lot of fun memories and learned soo much together and provided each other with an abundance of soul medicine. At that time we were just what each other needed. Because we were doing the inner work at the same time, we naturally reached a place where our vibrations were high enough that we were able to stand in our truths and admit 'this really can't work out and I've burned out my attachment to being close to you enough to honour the intuitive call to go in another direction' and we departed with love and stayed friends to this day!
Since we stayed in the situation until the soul lessons there were complete, when we broke up for the final time there was a natural sense of closure and peace. Whereas if we leave a situation before the energy has been resolved, we are still carrying the density of our patterns and there will be a process for us to go through internally where we get to explore those unfinished soul lessons and process them in solitude. There is nothing 'better' about choosing one or the other (everything is neutral from a higher dimensional perspective anyway) - but on a human level it's about choosing what is right for you in the situation and based on where you are at in your own journey.
Pros of staying in the situation:
We tend to be delivered our lessons more quickly if we are able to experience the mirror of the other person and stay present with the situation that brings out our triggers. It can be an accelerated course to that soul curriculum! We get to practice our courage muscle, conscious communication skills and being authentic and loving without putting expectation on the other person, responding according to what we need to do to honour ourselves (which means that if honouring ourselves means leaving, we are still free to leave at any time, but we aren’t leaving guided from fear). Conversely it can take months or years to unpack our patterns if we exit a situation prematurely, especially if we run to the next relationship and do the same things over again.
Pros of leaving the situation:
If we are carrying a lot of trauma, we may not be able to hold a state of presence and see things from a higher perspective whilst remaining in the situation and we could even become re-traumatized by the experience.
Also in staying, we might be just making excuses for ourselves to continue a destructive pattern. We might need to rip the band-aid off because our mental addiction to those thought patterns, feelings or actions has become so embedded that we can’t rewrite our subconscious when in the presence of that trigger. Sometimes we find we can't stop our unconscious behaviours even though we want to - we need to get away from the environment and do the inner healing before we are ready to go back into the world as the new, more integrated us. E.g. instead of staying and being present you are just playing out anxious attachment patterns again and chasing avoidant partners who are not ready for commitment. So we need to take a break from dating and work on our attachment style before exploring intimacy again.
We could also justify staying in a situation as ‘using it as a soul lesson’ when we are in a toxic or even abusive situation. Your soul doesn’t want you to give other people permission to treat you badly! If the dynamic is physically or emotionally abusive, please leave and go no contact with your abuser as soon as possible angel. If you're not sure if your situation is abusive or toxic, it probably is, and in any case you are feeling unsafe so it's time to leave for your own wellbeing.
In a non abusive situation, regardless of whether you leave or stay present and release expectations, we are all called to do the shadow work to let that pattern go permanently.
The shadow work looks like:
Identifying the behaviour, feeling or thought that we would like to change
Examining whether your thoughts are really true or just a subjective opinion you can rewrite - if you are suffering there is always a subjective opinion to rewrite. Sometimes it’s simply ‘I can’t cope if that’s true’
Looking into our past and discovering how we learned to think, feel and behave as we did and realising how the person who implanted fear in us was suffering from their own dysfunction, their own ego patterns.
Thanking our pattern for keeping us safe but letting it go as an adult now. Our patterns probably helped keep us safe in some way in the past because as a child we needed to make sure our caregivers wouldn’t abandon us. E.g. walking on tiptoes to not upset someone’s feelings isn’t a survival emergency now but maybe it was really scary as a child if our mum got mad at us. Now it’s safe for us to be honest about how we feel and create boundaries - if someone gets upset or angry that’s okay. Our wellbeing is just as important and we deserve to take care of ourselves.
Replacing old thoughts with new loving thoughts for ourselves and others and thoughts that are objectively true e.g. ‘this might happen but ‘negative’ things have happened to me before and I’ve survived and come out the other side! I might even see down the line how this was a blessing in disguise!’
Releasing pain from the body e.g. though crying, dancing, punching a pillow
Learning more helpful actions that express love for ourselves and others and making them a consistent practice
Falling in love with our authentic selves and loving ourselves unconditionally always whether we ‘screw up’ or ‘make progress’, and forgiving ourselves if we catch ourselves not choosing unconditional love for ourselves- we just choose unconditional love again right now.
If you are choosing to stay in a situation that brings up your triggers, being conscious also asks us to take extra steps such as:
Having sometimes uncomfortable conversations to address your triggers rather than avoiding the emotional intimacy and vulnerability of conscious conflict by becoming defensive, running away or people pleasing and keeping the peace
Being able to hold empathy for both yourself and the other person during challenging times
Practicing self regulating your emotions whilst in the presence of another
Communicating your feelings, needs and boundaries so your relationship is supportive of the emotional health of both parties (If in dating, truthfully letting the other person know what we can offer and we are looking for and what our needs and deal-breakers are in a committed relationship, if that's what we are looking for!)
Letting go of projections and assumptions and having the courage and open minded curiosity to ask how the other person is experiencing the situation
Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and for the other person to see us in our flaws and trust that they won’t leave or that if they do leave we will be okay and our worth is not dependent on them accepting us
Soothing anxiety or grief when the other person is unable to meet our emotional needs (and determining when a person is not able to offer much and it’s not aligned for us vs. when we are placing unreasonable expectations on others to save us from our feelings.)
This is how I work with clients - my focus is not on just helping them to change their short term behaviours alone, but to know why they were benefiting from their pattern and why they now don't need to hold onto it in order to navigate the world and be safe! I know that by guiding them to explore within, they will be able to come to the decision that is right for them and to uphold it because they have removed inner blockages such as low self-worth. Choosing to stay in a situation that isn't right for us is a symptom, and the real cause is the subconscious belief we are identified with. When we let go of old limiting stories, there is no longer anything tying us to those self destructive decisions anymore... and then we naturally become a match to embodying healthy choices consistently and permanently.