Influencing change and development by breaking patterns

Why do we often do what we have always done – even if we want to change?
I don’t know about you. But I know from my own life experience that I have sometimes wanted to make changes in my life, but it has not always happened. Similarly, I have sat in companies where there has been talk of making changes, and after a while the status of the process is still the same going forward, nothing has happened. We continue to do what we have always done. We follow a kind of habitual pattern.

This is because our brains like patterns. The brain likes things that are familiar, both in terms of motor skills and what we think. New patterns (situations, movements, etc.) take more energy for the brain to make a connection. However, if we keep practicing the new, the brain will eventually make it a familiar pattern too.

Responding to change
When the winds of change blow through a company or a family, it is not always met with a thumbs up and happy faces. Resistance and conditions such as skepticism, irritation and fear may arise. Our brains do not recognize what is presented. We might not be able to relate to it and it doesn’t make sense to us at the time. This is where it becomes important to be clear about who thinks change is needed and then follow up proposals and provisions for change with what the intention is and fully explain why new targets have been set. What do you/management want it to achieve? Involve stakeholders by listening, answering questions, being prepared to reassess certain elements. Understand that we all carry different backpacks through life and may not see working methods, goals and values in the same way. Make sure to anchor all the content so that everyone understands what it means and make sure everyone is (willing to be) on board. Another post will come in a few days on what to do if you are the one who cannot accept the framework, or deal with employees who do not want to.

Unwanted contexts
Take a Monday meeting (unfortunately a very good example in this case) that everyone involved feels only takes energy instead of giving. Perhaps a suggestion for a change in the meeting will emerge, but after a few weeks it will be the same again. A manager who goes on and on about the importance of commitment, numbers for the company and calls for creativity and collaboration going forward. You turned off your ears after the first point (because you’ve heard this so many times) and instead think about the weekend and what to do later after work.

Reflecting on what states these encounters create in myself and others is a good start. Then to find out suggestions on how meetings can be improved. And instead of suggesting shortening the meeting or running them every two weeks. One solution (breaking the pattern) could be to have different people chair the meeting and hand over the floor to the reporters. Perhaps the meeting could be held in a nearby café that is empty on a morning just after the morning rush hour. Or why not start the meeting with a funny clip that has nothing to do with work. A movement to stimulate the right and left hemispheres of the brain at the beginning or middle of the meeting is another idea.

Breaking the familiar and boring with something new, fresh and a little outside the framework of what the meeting has previously been. Then pay attention to the condition of the participants and evaluate if you are on the right track.

My perception from all the years I worked as an employee is that there is something unspoken about laughter and play not being part of serious business. But to me it is completely illogical. When we laugh, feel joy and are in positive states, happy hormones are released in the brain and body. They make us more creative and open. I think that’s where we become the best team. When we dare to laugh in the midst of seriousness. So break the pattern and have a good laugh the next time the meeting gets a bit heavy!

Breaking patterns of undesirable states
Of course, there are days or periods in our lives when we are in anything but good states. You struggle with your nose above the water, dragging your feet to work and back home again. Giving a thumbs up when someone asks if it’s ok, while your whole insides are screaming “NO it’s not”.

Pattern breaking here could be changing jobs, if that is the reason for the anxiety and depression. If you feel bad in your relationship, there may be a need to break the pattern there (e.g. change the person who cooks, shops or make time for one evening a week when you do exactly what you want).

To make a pattern break, you also need to start (if you haven’t already) reflecting on which parts of your life are taking you into negative states. Then realize that you can make choices, and that no one will make the right choices for you but you. This can be a challenge if you have allowed others to make decisions for you for a long period of time, perhaps a lifetime. But it is actually your life and it is you who has the right to make all the choices that take you into good states. Responsibility for your well-being ultimately lies on your own palette.

Breaking patterns can take time
If you are making a pattern break or are involved in a proposal to break a pattern that does not provide energy or other good states, make sure to give it some time. And put effort into the actual breaking of the pattern.

Changing too many patterns too often can instead lead to more negative states, such as confusion, anxiety and lack of understanding. So try a pattern break and see what happens over time. If there is no change, try something else.

Pattern breaking as a proposed solution
So pattern breaking can be a way to break negative conditions and contexts. Situations and conditions that do not take us forward, but inhibit our capacity as living human beings. Below I list some tips and ideas on pattern breaking that can make sense. I have experienced and worked with several of them in the past. It is best to test and do what makes the most sense for you and/or the company (team, meeting group, etc.).

Here are some ideas and tips on how to apply pattern breaking in different contexts. Use it as inspiration to find your own pattern breaks in your professional and personal life.

  • Walking with clients – individual meetings
    Instead of having one-on-one meetings in your office or that difficult conversation with a family member, it may be worth taking a walk instead of sitting face-to-face. We humans function differently in how we receive and sort information (more on this in a later post called VAK).
  • Start with a funny story or metaphor
    Why not surprise an upcoming “tough” meeting with a funny story or a metaphor that puts the meeting participants in the state you want them to be in before the meeting. Can also come up in the middle of the meeting as a deliberate break.If it is private, a funny story can be good for shifting the focus. For example, Little Olof doesn’t want to go to the dentist. See if you can say something funny that will be a break. Without diminishing the child’s feelings (fear, discomfort). Sometimes we get stuck in an emotional state and need help to get out of it.
  • What can make a boring meeting fun? – Generating ideas in the team -> the intention to stimulate creativity.
    Creativity comes when we feel engaged, involved and interested.
  • Hold the meeting in a café
    Suggestions in the text above. If you are a small group, why not hold the meeting in a quiet café near your workplace?
  • Start the meeting with movement for 1 min
    Slow movements are proven to positively stimulate the nervous system. So to help with focus and presence, doing these kinds of movements can be of value. Or just do a short movement pattern that releases tension in your body if you have been sitting or staying still a lot. Contact me and I’ll give you some tips on that. Otherwise it will be in a future post.
  • “Words” for breaking patterns
    In our family, we have agreed with our daughters (strong individuals with temperaments) that when they start to behave and act in a way that is unpleasant to us, they have each chosen a word that they want us to say. Ex “elephant”. They have chosen that word when we have been sitting quietly talking and explaining the purpose. For them and us, it works. Which leads to less and shorter conflicts. Could be very useful for adults as well. 😉
  • Homework with a disco lamp
    Does your child find homework boring and do everything to avoid it? Try putting a disco light in your room and see if it helps you to have more fun and get more homework done. Finish with a home-made family dance. 😉
  • Breathing exercise – more focus
    I coach a sports team where the leaders wanted more focus on training. I chose to add breathing exercises (for those who wanted to) as a start to the workout instead of starting with a “regular” warm-up right away. Many came directly from their jobs and needed the opportunity to shift their focus.
  • Do not stand and hang on one hip – got less back pain
    A few years ago I had some back problems. I identified a number of things, including. that I often stood on one hip. So I stopped doing that, and now stand still on both feet and avoid hanging on the hip. My back problems disappeared to some extent from this.

Brainstorming and testing pattern breaks – they can lead to many laughs and good conditions. Especially if they are unexpected!

Take care,





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