Today is Part 2 of our discussion of Personality Patterns. So if you haven’t read part 1 yet, head back to last Wednesday’s blog. There, I explained what personality patterns are, how those personality patterns might be showing up in your life, and what the gifts are of each pattern.
So today we continue that discussion, and today I’m going to talk about what to do when you realize that you’re stuck in your pattern and how to get off it! So if you don’t know what your personality pattern is yet, pause this episode and go take our personality patterns quiz now so you can learn which of the 5 personality patterns you tend to go into when you’re overwhelmed, and that way when you come back and listen to this episode, you know your pattern and when I talk about how to break out of your particular pattern, you can pay attention and take notes and then really try to put it into practice.
It’s a short quiz – it should just take you a couple of minutes, and you’ll learn what your personality pattern is it’s going to be really eye-opening for you guys in understanding why you do a lot of the things you do.
So just a quick refresh on what your Personality Pattern is – so it’s not like other personality tests you might have done like the Enneagram or Myers-Briggs or whatever else. Those tests describe a series of types – I’m an 8, or a 3, or I’m an ENTJ – but Personality Patterns are different. They don’t describe who you are. Rather they describe the safety strategies you immediately go to when you start to feel overwhelmed. It doesn’t describe who you are, but rather what is blocking who you are. So they’re really survival patterns we’ve picked up through the course of our lives to help our nervous systems manage trauma, stress, and overwhelm.
They’re defense strategies and coping mechanisms and most of them were probably not even aware of. So how we got into the pattern we tend to use is different based on the pattern, but they all stem from childhood – one as early as trauma that occurs in utero.
So how we get into a pattern is that as a child, something happens that overwhelms our nervous system.
- You used whatever skills you had at that age to solve your problem. Maybe you copied what you’d seen others do, or maybe you invented a new strategy. You try different things out.
- If the strategy works, you keep using it. If it doesn’t work, you try something else.
- Over time, you settle into a strategy and as you use it repeatedly, it becomes conditioned into your body and develops into a survival pattern.
- As you grow, that pattern becomes the lens through which you experience life. It influences how you see yourself and the world.
So whatever pattern you tend to go into when you’re overwhelmed or experiencing some sort of stress is distorting your perceptions and your experiences. What you’re upset about may not be nearly as bad as it looks through the filter of your Pattern. And even if it is, you need to be able to see it clearly to find the best way to respond.
So when we’re in pattern we go through life seeing a filtered, distorted picture of the world and making all our decisions based on that distorted information. After listening to ep 47 and this episode and taking the personality pattern quiz I created, you’re going to start to recognize when you go into your survival pattern, and this episode is about the skills you’ll need to shift yourself out of the pattern and back into the present. Whenever you realize you’ve gone into the Pattern, your first job is to get yourself out of the pattern and back to being present.
The more you’re able to be present, the more your nervous system understands that you don’t need it to protect you in the same way it did when you were a child, the more present you are – the less useful your pattern is going to be. And your identity will start to shift from your survival pattern to your present, true, and authentic self.
When you get out of the Pattern and back to the present, you will once again have access to all the help, resources, and maturity that you have worked so hard to develop. Once you are back in the present, you will be able to find the best way to respond to any situation.
Today I’m going to coach you on the steps you can take to start healing each pattern. Because they’re really trauma responses, once you take the quiz, learn your pattern and start to be aware of then, learn the underlying trauma that’s causing you to go into that response, you can start to heal that underlying trauma and then eventually you won’t go into that response anymore.
And you’ll be able to function in your learning brain, as your true and authentic self, because your nervous system won’t need that survival pattern anymore. So you’ll be operating and responding to your kids and your partner and your boss – not from a defensive pattern that’s where everything you’re taking in is skewed by your pattern, but rather where you’re finally seeing through a clear lens.
1. The Leaving Pattern
As we discussed last week, the earliest pattern to develop is the leaving pattern. It usually happens as a result of some sort of trauma experienced when you’re in the womb, during childbirth, or as a newborn. The safety strategy of the Leaving Pattern is to dip out at the first sign of conflict. To just move away from whatever’s scary, or whatever might be scary.
So if you took the quiz or you’re just noticing that you tend to go into this pattern, the first thing to do is start growing your awareness of when you’re resorting to your pattern. So you find you’re stressed/overwhelmed and for this pattern, maybe you notice that voice in your head getting louder and louder telling you, just gotta get away. Or maybe you’re feeling disconnected from your body or like you’re living “out there”
So to get out of leaving pattern, you’ve gotta learn how to shift your attention from the fear in your mind to your bodily sensations and your connections to the earth. Just get grounded. And then you’re gonna want to play around with what really helps to reorient you. So maybe it’s crouching down low, feeling the ground hold you, and repeating your own name. Maybe it’s doing a body scan and bringing awareness to each part of your body. Maybe it’s reminding yourself that your body is good for you and wants you here (and so do others!)
Healing the Leaving Pattern requires that you return to the very beginning of life and build from there. Your unmet developmental need is to feel safe here in the human world – welcomed, loved, and nurtured by other people. So your developmental task is embodiment – claiming your body as your own and really feeling anchored to your body. You will also find great healing in learning to feel at home in your body. It’s going to be really hard to do this alone because it is not going to feel safe for your nervous system. It’s going to be a lot of bodywork, a lot of somatics, a lot of grounding work, and work on setting and enforcing boundaries. So if this is a pattern you run and you’re interested in healing it and putting it aside so you can function without it, find yourself a good therapist or a coach who is familiar with this pattern, who is well grounded and a loving support network, you can find a human connection that is safe, warm and welcoming. If you’re interested in working with me on healing your leaving pattern, I’m actually opening up 15 $100×100 1-on-1 coaching spots – available for purchase the first week of November, and then you can book them with me through the beginning of the year. I’m going to share more about that at the end of today’s episode, so if that’s something that interests you, keep listening for more details. Eventually, you will learn how to turn to others for comfort, instead of turning away and leaving.
2. The Merging Pattern
When you’re in the Merging Pattern, connection to others feels like the key to survival. In pattern, you’ll likely find that you’re quite talkative and focused on keeping everyone around you happy. The safety strategy of the Merging Pattern is to look to others to have your needs met, rather than developing your own internal capacities.
So if you took the quiz or you’re just noticing that you tend to go into this pattern, the first thing to do is start growing your awareness of when you’re resorting to your pattern. So you find you’re stressed/overwhelmed and for this pattern, maybe you’re noticing you’re having a hard time referencing yourself, neglecting your own needs and your own feelings, and just focusing on others. Maybe you find you’re trying to be all the things for all the people. Driving yourself to burnout to show up for everyone around you.
To get out of the merging pattern you really have to shift your attention from others and their needs to sensing your own core and your own feelings and needs.
The healing work of the Merging Pattern is to learn how to truly meet your own needs instead of being stuck in the belief that you must get what you need from others. Because the Merging Pattern starts at such a young age, you’ll need help and guidance to learn the skills that you missed and complete the tasks of this age which is learning how to meet your own needs instead of relying on others to do so.
To heal, you need a warm, loving connection to others who support you in developing your own capacities by gently directing your attention back to your own strengths and abilities. You need to learn how to reference yourself so you can measure what you have and what you need and ask for it directly. In order to do all this, you need to be held in unwavering love. Your patterned habit is to refer others for guidance, so you need someone to repeatedly direct your attention back to your own needs and abilities.
You’re also going to want to do a lot of work around boundaries, developing your own will and strength, and developing good self-care habits. In this pattern, you’re often going to feel like you’re not enough. So the work is knowing that you are enough. Your human need is to experience yourself as being able to care for yourself. Your spiritual need is to experience God within you filling and supporting you. Through this, you can develop reality-based self-confidence, take responsibility for your own action, connect without merging, and tolerate being alone.
Great healing will be found in working with a coach who can measure your real abilities, help pace you, and have real confidence in you.
3. The Enduring Pattern
When you’re in the Enduring Pattern, you probably tend to hold all your feelings inside. As a child, you were likely discouraged from asserting yourself. Now as an adult, you may fear self-expression to the point of self-sabotage and actively avoiding success.
The safety strategy of the Enduring Pattern is to fly under the radar, hunker down, and avoid self-expression.
So if you took the quiz or you’re just noticing that you tend to go into this pattern, the first thing to do is start growing your awareness of when you’re resorting to your pattern. So you find you’re stressed/overwhelmed and for this pattern, maybe you’re noticing you’re feeling really heavy and stuck. Maybe you’re feeling really stubborn with this “you can’t make me” mentality. Maybe you’re just resisting everything even to the point of sabotaging your own goals.
To get out of the enduring pattern is fairly simply getting your stuck energy moving. Daily exercise can be really healing for this pattern. Since the enduring pattern is all about pulling in and hunkering down, healing will come in doing the opposite – pushing up and out in self-expression and action. Learning how to set healthy boundaries helps you practice defending your own space. People who tend to turn to the Enduring Pattern also need to learn to move proactively, rather than just reactively. Finally, anger work is especially important for those in the Enduring Pattern because they have never seen anger expressed in a clean, healthy, responsible way. So it’s important they do their anger work with a coach who understands the value of clean, healthy anger.
If this is you – I just want to encourage you. You can work your way out of this pattern just like you can work your way out of any other pattern. You can show up instead of hiding. You can celebrate success and finish things you start. You can transition from that heaviness to joy and the levity that joy brings.
4. The Aggressive Pattern
If you have the Aggressive Pattern, when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, you tend to doubt whether you can trust or depend on others. As a result, you may try to dominate and control yourself, others, and situations in order to feel safe. The safety strategy of the Aggressive Pattern is to become powerful and in charge. So you’re hearing about fight or flight stress response, if you have the Aggressive Pattern, you’re a fighter.
So if you took the quiz or you’re just noticing that you tend to go into this pattern, the first thing to do is start growing your awareness of when you’re resorting to your pattern. So you find you’re stressed/overwhelmed and for this pattern, maybe you’re noticing you’re starting to throw energy at others, feel the need to dominate, you revved up to fight, you’re not thinking of other’s needs or feelings – only your own. And if you’re noticing this, how you get out of the aggressive pattern is to connect with something loving that is bigger than you and let it hold you.
And a great way to do that is to connect with your creator. Feel your connection to God – ask for support and to feel safe and then open yourself to receiving that. For the aggressive pattern, a lot of healing is going to come from learning to value your connection to others and integrating love and power within yourself. You need to become capable of feeling both strengths and need at the same time. As you begin to feel protected and contained, you will gradually be able to surrender into feeling your own vulnerability and needs, asking for what you need, and receiving it from others. As part of healing the Aggressive Pattern, it’s vital that you unearth your buried anger and release it. This pattern doesn’t tend to have a lot of buried anger because it comes out so easily, but it’s being fueled by other emotions. So we know that anger is a secondary emotion and that means that there’s always something beneath the anger – so that’s the work of healing the aggressive pattern. It’s exploring and discovering what’s beneath all that anger – is it hurt, fear, grief, or shame – and then surfacing and releasing those emotions. And a final sense of healing for those of you who run this pattern is learning to function from a space that’s not fueled by adrenaline. Learning to function from a calm, centered state.
5. The Rigid Pattern
When you’re in the Rigid Pattern, you tend to believe that order is a source of safety. You focus on improving anything (and anyone) that is not yet to your standards. The safety strategy of the Rigid Pattern is to ignore the body’s sensations or feelings and look to rules, form, and structure for how to perform.
So if you took the quiz or you’re just noticing that you tend to go into this pattern, the first thing to do is start growing your awareness of when you’re resorting to your pattern. So you find you’re stressed/overwhelmed and for this pattern, maybe you’re noticing you’re trying to put the whole world in order – you’re trying to fix things or fix others who don’t want or need to be fixed. Maybe you’re super focused on the rules or what someone else is saying, rather than checking in with yourself for guidance. Maybe you find you’re really achievement-oriented and you’re starting to obsess with your performance, slipping into that workaholic tendency you’re your tendency to be a perfectionist.
So as soon as you notice you’re in pattern, the way to get yourself out of the rigid pattern is to start focusing on how you’re feeling – your emotions and how you’re feeling in your body – your actual sensations – as your source for guidance. So it’s learning to shift your attention from what’s “correct” to something playful, fun, joyful, and silly.
The healing work of the Rigid Pattern is for you to learn to feel loved and cherished just for being, rather than for something you did. I try to tell my kids every day – I love you for no reason. I want them to know that my love is not conditional on anything they do.
To heal, you need to move toward feelings, rather than forms and rules. Your developmental tasks are to learn to feel and value your own feelings and needs, to trust your own feelings as your source of inner guidance, and to allow the full flow of your life force energy to move through your body.
It can really help to explore that there is more than one “right way” in life. Since your early wound involved ignoring your sensations and emotions, your healing requires accepting, loving, and valuing all of yourself. Healing of the Rigid Pattern must be felt in your body and not just an idea in your mind. At your core, you need to experience being a mess and still being loved. The healing for the rigid pattern is discovering and embodying that they can be authentic rather than always trying to be appropriate.
So if you want to know more about what your pattern is, go take the quiz now. This awareness of your personality pattern is big guys. Because you can’t break a pattern you don’t even know exists.