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ASK MERRILY/Stuck in Old Patterns

Merrily Preston
By Merrily Preston
Posted on Jan 28,2010
Filed Under Personal Development , Opinions,

Photo by Flickr/psyberartist/3482018103/
Photo by Flickr/psyberartist/3482018103/


I find that my relationships get stuck in old patterns that no longer serve my best interest.  I get angry when a negative pattern, which I thought was worked through with my husband, reappears.  I thought I'd never have to experience it again, and I feel frustration and despair.  For example, when I feel I'm not being heard, or my viewpoint is not taken into account, I feel dismissed and devalued once again. Can you help me get out of these old ruts for good?

Dear Stuck,
Is it true that you are dismissed and devalued?  These feelings you will have to take responsibility for.  You may be unconsciously collapsing into an old familiar place. Our old patterns have created neural pathways in the brain.  Without our awareness, these patterns run on automatic.  As we practice responding to a situation rather than reacting to it, we create new pathways.  
An old, familiar road is like an established neural pathway.  We take it automatically until we discover that we have a choice to follow a new road.  Following the new road, we forget about the old one, which falls into disrepair and becomes difficult to travel.  But, one day without thinking we turn onto the old road and plow right down it.  We remember that we don’t like this road anymore.  
We also revisit old behavior patterns without thinking.  Put into perspective, the visit gives us an opportunity to reaffirm our choice of new behavior.  Eventually the old road becomes just remnants of itself.  Choosing it, we are bounced right back onto the new road.  Attempting to use old neural connections, we are also bounced onto the new.  If you stay present in your experience of frustration and despair, these feelings will inform you.  Don’t expect an old pattern to go away, as its remnants will await your return.  But, as you choose consciously how you want to behave, you will see less and less of the old way.  If your husband chooses the old way, and you choose the new, he will have no one ‘to dance’ with.  Let him dance alone until he is ready to dance with you in the new pattern. 
Merrily Preston is an Intentional Life Facilitator, who lives in Woodbridge, VA. Her column is exclusive to Local Kicks in Alexandria, VA.  Email questions to and visit

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