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Home / Advice / Personality Disorder / How to combat negative patterns

How to combat negative patterns

By: Emma Doyle

Updated: 13 October 2016

How to combat negative patterns

Why does this keep happening to me?!  – sound familiar?

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations we’d rather not be in over and over again. Negative patterns are made up of our way of thinking or behaving which can prevent us from being our best self by limiting our achievements and well-being.  Types of negative patterns include;

  • Being late
  • Procrastinating
  • Taking on too much
  • Thinking negatively
  • Worrying
  • Losing your temper
  • Having poor boundaries
  • People Pleasing
  • Overeating
  • Being disorganised
  • Over-thinking
  • Getting together with the wrong guy/girl

Negative patterns can be unconsciously developed and become ingrained in our everyday lives making it difficult to break the cycle.  

We can get so used to the negative patterns that we stop noticing them or can put them down to bad luck but can be left frustrated and upset when we find ourselves continuously stuck in a whirlwind of negativity.  

Although it can be difficult to see when you are stuck on the negative merry-go-round, these patterns can provide us with the clues that can lead us towards making positive changes in our daily lives.

Here are some quick and easy tips to help combat negative patterns; 

Get familiar

The first step in tackling any issue is to become aware of what is happening.  Acknowledge those times when you find yourself running for that bus when you know you’re not going to make it as you didn’t leave the house on time.  Noticing your pattern is important to instigate the journey towards breaking free from the cycle. 

Take Note

Whether it’s a mental note, quick scrawl on a notebook, or entry in your phone, take stock of what is happening. Recording your negative patterns will help to deepen your awareness.  

Be curious

Once you master recognising your pattern you can get inquisitive. Enjoy being nosy in your own story by looking at;

Your thoughts and beliefs

What do you think or believe about your negative pattern?

Your behaviour

How do you respond to the negative pattern?

Your emotions and body sensations

How do you reply emotionally, are you sad, angry, frustrated, anxious when you’ve experienced a negative pattern?

Your situation

Check out your environment.  When and where do the negative patterns occur, is there anyone else involved?

Make friends

Allow yourself to accept your negative patterns.   These habits have served some purpose in your life.  Compassionately acknowledging your negative patterns is much more useful than forcefully trying to banish them.  

Empower yourself

Now that you understand your pattern you can begin to take back control.  Sometimes things happen outside of our control. This is true of the negative patterns as the process can be completely unconscious.

It can be tempting to play the blame game which puts the responsibility on somebody other than yourself to take control and make a change.  Look at the role you play in your pattern and empower yourself to change your behaviour.  

By taking responsibility, you can give yourself the ability to choose how to respond to your situation.

Know your options  

Once you gain more experience with your pattern you can build a catalogue of choices on how you could respond to a situation.  Knowing your options will help you to become more confident in proving that the outcome doesn’t always have to be the same. Try something different and see how it works.  Know that you can tweak your choices based on what is right for you.

Reward success

Give yourself credit! Notice and celebrate when you manage to create a new path.  Rejoice in the freedom on having more options rather than operating from your old default position.

It is said that old habits die hard.  You may find that there are times when you are catapulted back to your old way of behaving which enables the negative patterns to resurface.  

Don’t beat yourself up if it happens as it doesn’t mean that you have to go back to the old way of being.  Recognise the relapses and use your new skills to help you combat future situations.  Keep positive and know that you are giving yourself the best opportunity to show your true self. Practice makes perfect!

By Emma Doyle 


James O'Regan Counsellor Location: Limerick

Approach: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) , Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy , Mindfulness , Person-Centred Therapy , Other

Works with: Individual Session , Couples Session

Specialities: Work Issues, Work/Life balance , Suicidal Ideation / Self Harm , Stress , Self-Esteem , Relationship issues , Personal Development , Anger , Anxiety , Bereavement / Loss , Depression , Trauma , Isolation / Loneliness

Next avaialble appointment: 14:00 28 September 2022

Eilís Ní Mhearraí Psychotherapist Location: Online

Approach: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) , Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy , Mindfulness , Person-Centred Therapy , Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

Works with: Individual Session

Specialities: Work Issues, Work/Life balance , Sexuality (LGBT) , Self-Esteem , Self Care , Relationship issues , Personal Development , Obsessive Compulsive Disorder , Isolation / Loneliness , Anger , Anxiety , Bereavement / Loss , Depression , Suicidal Ideation / Self Harm , Domestic Violence / Abuse

Next avaialble appointment: 10:00 28 September 2022

Chelsie Daly Psychotherapist Location: Online

Approach: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) , Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy , Person-Centred Therapy , Psychodynamic Therapy , Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Works with: Individual Session

Specialities: Work Issues, Work/Life balance , Stress , Self-Esteem , Self Care , Relationship issues , Anxiety , Bereavement / Loss , Depression , Isolation / Loneliness , Suicidal Ideation / Self Harm , Personal Development

Next avaialble appointment: 19:00 28 September 2022

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