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Article Published July 9, 2020

Identifying and Breaking Patterns in Relation to Mental Health

By By Venice and Vernon Moore

Editor’s Note: July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health experts Venice and Vernon Moore, who live in East Haven and run their company in North Haven, will be writing a series of columns on mental health this month.

Sometimes in this chaotic world we may feel like we are running on a hamster wheel, which can be exhausting!

Have you ever thought that one of the reasons you may be so exhausted could be because there are certain patterns that have been established in your life that need to be broken?

What are patterns in relation to your life or mental health?

Patterns are repetitive occurrences or behaviors that continue to pop up; some that we may be aware of and others we may not be aware of. The patterns that we know about we may not be ready to release. The patterns that we may be unaware of may be learned behavior, some that may be deeply rooted from your upbringing or childhood.

On the other hand, as we stop walking on the treadmill and are exhausted, we may just feel stuck. This can be stuck in what to do next in our lives, physically, or just stuck in our bodies.

Either way, stuck is stuck, right?

So, then what?

Have you taken a moment to ask yourself what patterns or behaviors may be holding you back?

Sometimes emotional instability can be due to us not taking a look at what needs to change; and other times we may know what needs to change, but not truly have the courage to address the how, to make the necessary changes to get to the next step in life.

A therapist may be able to support you in this.

I remember a client coming into the office and ranting about how their teenage daughter had turned into a monster. Of course, teenagers are into their phones, they talk back, and may not even be honest at times. I invited this mom to have her daughter join a session.

When they both came in they not only looked alike, but their mannerisms were the same too.

They were both withdrawn, they didn’t smile much, and both seemed to have a cold demeanor.

When I asked the daughter to talk about how her relationship was with her mom, she explained how her mom was so hard on her and she felt like her mom didn’t understand her as a person. The mother listened, and as I continued to ask the daughter some questions, the daughter started crying.

The mother was stunned.

I told the mother that this would be a good time to give her daughter a hug if she liked.

The mother looked mortified.

The daughter said, “That’s the problem, she hasn’t hugged me in maybe two years, she doesn’t do hugs or anything affectionate.”

Aha!

No wonder mom didn’t know what to do. She grew up in a militant household with five other siblings, her mother didn’t have time to be affectionate either! Hence, a pattern had started through learned behavior.

We were able to do some serious work once those patterns were discovered and acknowledged.

Over time and with some gentle space, the mother-daughter relationship opened up little by little and was restored, just by our being able to identify a pattern that neither of them knew was affecting them so deeply.

Some of our behaviors or lack thereof affect how we live our lives, not only personally but professionally too.

We invite you to take some time alone to sit and think about your life and some patterns in which you may want to break.

Not setting goals for yourself, but identifying patterns.

This may mean digging deeper, talking to a relative about your childhood, or looking into things you have avoided.

Awareness, acknowledgment, and Action are the first steps towards healing.

There may be a need to jump off the hamster wheel and be still for a moment and ask yourself: what patterns am I truly trying to break? Are they intentional or habitual? And do I need support with this? Being able to identify negative patterns is the start.

Remember, when it comes to mental health care, it’s not taboo, it’s essential.

Venice and Vernon Moore are the Owners of Embracing Your Difference, a mental health private practice and leadership firm in North Haven. To learn more about the Embracing Your Difference Movement or to find out more about their latest work, The Self Love and Self-Healing Workbook, visit www.embraceyourdifference.com.