At some point in my journey I became aware that I had a number of patterns of thinking that dominated my life. I’d like to share those patterns of thinking with you to illustrate how our thinking can limit our engagement in life.
Many of my school friends were great athletes and sportsmen, and yet I appeared to be a very poor athlete. At an early stage I developed a pattern of thinking that instructed me that ‘I was the most uncoordinated person I’d ever met’. And that is what I became – the most uncoordinated person I knew. I was renowned for being ‘scared of the ball’, so I never played a team sport, or a sport involving a ball. The only sporting activity I participated in was a non-competitive individualistic pursuit – running.
If you didn’t play a team sport that involved an oval ball as a youngster in New Zealand you very quickly became socially marginalized. I felt isolated when my friends were practicing and playing team sports, and later in life when they socialized after their matches I felt left out.
At university, the only way I thought I could communicate with my colleagues and friends was to drink heavily, and smoke marijuana. A pattern of thinking had developed that suggested I was inarticulate, so I thought the only way I could articulate myself was to be either drug addled, or to have a few drinks on board.
As I moved into adulthood, I became extremely judgmental of other people. Those judgments limited my ability to communicate with empathy with many people, and as a consequence I often felt uncomfortable when I was attempting to converse with others. This pattern of thinking made it very difficult for me to participate in some activities with other people, or even to make new friends.
I became aware that these patterns of thinking kept creating and reinforcing the same dynamic in my life: ‘I am the most uncoordinated person’, ‘I am inarticulate’, and my prevailing interaction with people continued to be couched in judgment and ridicule.
The patterns of thinking had grossly limited my ability to interact in life. It was as if a glass box of limitation enveloped me. Everywhere I went I had this sort of glass box that severely restricted my ability to engage and interact in my world.
Becoming aware of our patterns of thinking is a major shift in our growth. When we are aware of a pattern of thinking we’ve got a choice. We have a choice to let it go, and an opportunity to approach life in a more expanded and engaging way.