It is fall, and as the leaves make their annual transformation to brilliant reds, oranges and yellows and then flutter to the ground, it reminds me of the patterns we face in our own lives. I often find myself getting frustrated when a pattern I have seen over and over again, and thought I’d healed, once again rears its ugly head. But a teacher recently put this into perspective saying, “Do you think in the fall the trees say, ‘Not this again! I have to change colors, drop my leaves and then grow them again in the spring. Sigh!’” Of course they don’t.
There are seasons for everything in life, and that includes us. There are times when we are creative, vibrant, excited and ready to face the world. There are other times when we are reflective, quiet, withdrawn and need to rest. Sometimes these patterns last a few hours and sometimes a few weeks - occasionally, perhaps, only a few minutes or several years. Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t really serve us to get frustrated or annoyed about any of it. We are constantly growing and changing, like the trees, and when it is time for us to rest, we should just rest, when it is time to work, we can work, and when it is time to transform and heal, we will have the energy and ability and insight to do that.
The first step to healing a pattern that doesn’t serve us is to recognize it. So much of what we do, say and think is a habit, an unconscious pattern that we don’t even notice or question. To bring something to the surface of our consciousness is a major accomplishment, and we should give ourselves credit for that. Seeing it is the first step to healing it or changing it, but it is not the only step.
I often forget that, and think that because I had an insight about one of my patterns and had some new thoughts, or took some different actions around that particular pattern that it is now dealt with. Done. Over. Finito! Not so fast! Our issues are often like the layers of an onion. We peel off the top layer and there is another one underneath. And the layers keep going. Something only rises to our attention when we are ready to deal with it, and maybe we were only able to deal with the surface issue in the beginning.
As we become better equipped, have more tools, better support systems, or new healing methods, more and more layers can be peeled back because now we can see them with new eyes. Layer five might have been completely traumatic had we not already healed layers one through four. We have to trust that our body, mind, heart and spirit knows what it’s about. Patterns are patterns because they have persisted long enough to wear a groove, and it can take some time to create a new pathway, connect a new brain synapse or form a new habit.
All that is required from us when another birthday rolls around, an old trigger gets activated or a familiar pattern emerges is to notice – not resist, not get upset, not make ourselves wrong for not having “dealt with” that one yet. Notice, and then look more closely at the next layer. There will almost always be another one. Just like the leaves will fall from the trees again next year. You can count on it.