Before you head straight for the comments to give me a piece of your mind, let me explain. We’re all addicted at some level. It’s part of the human experience. Our cells get a certain feeling from experiences we have and that’s why certain experiences tend to repeat multiple times.
Have you ever had a moment when you could predict how you’re going to feel in the future? For instance, when you need to have a conversation with a particular person and that person always makes you feel a certain way? Or the conversation always goes a certain way?
Or do you remember ever saying, “this always happens to me”? You know, kind of like the movie Groundhog Day. Well, maybe not that bad, but I think you probably get what I mean.
To illustrate my point I’m going to use a real story about my own life. I’m not just accusing you of being addicted to the familiar, I’m admitting to the same process existing in me. I’m just as guilty as we all are.
I also intend to make clear that this isn’t a bad thing. Being addicted has tremendous advantages as well as negative consequences. In this article I’m going to show you how to harness this force of nature for good in your life.
As you’re reading this all the way through, I have a request of you. I want you to consider for a moment, that if this is true, how might it be showing up in your life? Instead of you looking for ways to argue against this point, I invite you to look for the truth in it.
The Trap of the Familiar
Our bodies have been conditioned to go for the familiar. We all have thoughts, fears, and feelings both good and bad that are automatic and predictable. All of these things put together are how we create our identity. They’ve become how we relate to ourselves.
Our thoughts send signals to the rest of our body that inform our cells how to feel. Those feelings become emotions - or energy in motion - which transmute into actions and then results. This is why we often have the experience of familiarity with our environment.
The following is an example of how this concept showed up for me in the recent past and what I chose to do about it to create an unfamiliar result. It’s an example of how I chose to change who I am in service of a new and more favorable circumstance in my life.
I have a friend named Steve whom I’ve known since I was four years old. We’ve known each other for 32 years. He’s one of my best friends in the world. He and his wife are planning his 40th birthday party for next month.
Obviously a 40th birthday is a big deal and my friends and I love to have a good excuse to get together and have a party. It just so happens that I have a work commitment scheduled on that day. This caused a feeling of anger, sadness and disappointment in me.
Didn’t they know I wouldn’t be available on that day? Of course they did. I’ve been busy on the first weekend of every month for over four years.
Didn’t they know I’d really want to come out and celebrate with them? Of course they did. They know me and how much I love to be with my friends having a good time.
Aren’t they allowed to schedule a birthday party whenever they want? Of course they are. It’s their party and they can have it whenever they want to.
As all of these thoughts and feelings were running through my mind and body I noticed this was a familiar pattern from the past. I remembered a time when we were kids.
My neighborhood friends, of which this person was one, had plans to do something together. I had also been invited to hang out with another group of my friends during that same time. I chose to hang out with this other group over my neighborhood friends. Steve was pissed at me!
It was a big deal at the time. I was called a sell out, a bad friend, and all kinds of other names I won’t put in writing here. It made me feel like a bad person. I still chose to do what I wanted to do because I knew I could do so and still maintain my friendship with Steve. It just wouldn’t feel good for a while.
We, of course, got over this tough time in our relationship as kids and have had a ton of awesome experiences together since then. The interesting thing is how much that time in my life was still impacting me in the present and the future. I’ll explain.
I was trapped in the familiar pattern of allowing my feelings to manifest into my reality. When I heard about the 40th birthday party conflicting with my work commitment, as I said, I was angry, sad, and disappointed.
I immediately imagined the worse case scenario. Steve would call me a bad friend and be mad at me for missing this milestone celebration, I’d be mad at him for not being willing to see my perspective, and I’d have to do a lot of work to fix our relationship.
What I Did To Create Something Different
First I got present to why I was taking the position of prioritizing my work commitment. In the past I would have related to this as something that was happening to me. I have to do this other thing. I have no choice.
This time I empowered it as my choice. I won’t bore you with all the details as to why this was my choice, but I had to be able to see that it was, in fact, a choice.
Then I got present to the fact that this doesn’t mean I’m a bad person and it also doesn’t mean I don’t love Steve. It simply means I’m not going to be present at his birthday party.
Next I chose how I wanted to feel about it all. I chose to feel happy. I felt happy about the amazing accomplishment it is to have had a friend for 32 years. I felt grateful that we have a relationship such that we can feel disappointment and not hate each other for it. I chose to feel relieved that he was ok with me missing the party before I actually had evidence that he was.
The important thing to note here is that all of these feelings were there as a result of my choice. Not a result of anything that actually happened. I changed who I was being before I did anything at all. Most people are accustomed to waiting for their circumstances to change prior to their feelings and actions changing. This is the trap I alluded to above.
Now that I had created a foundation of who I wanted to be in this situation I could take some action around it. I contacted Steve and invited him over to hang out. We sat around and talked for a few hours. Just had some bonding time.
During this conversation we talked about his party. I told him that I really wanted to be there and I really wanted to be my word around my work commitment at the same time. He totally understood. We had a nice time together and we decided we’d plan another time to celebrate his birthday when I would be there.
Why You Should Care
Our existence can be broken down into patterns because that’s how nature works. In the human body these patterns can be broken down into thoughts, feelings and actions that are completely automatic and predictable.
If you choose to become aware of these patterns you can learn how to, and master the ability to, literally create whatever future you want. There is nothing magical about it. It’s science and nature.
This is happening in your life right now whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not. So you might as well learn how to intentionally use this power to your advantage.
Over the next couple weeks in my articles I’m going to dive deeper into this concept and share some of the many sources I’ve learned it from. This information, and putting it into application, has changed my life for the better in many ways. My mission is to show the world that every human being has this power. The power to live life by design.