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LEARN YOUR PATTERNS

Sara Roberts believes that if she had looked back in the months after her teen pregnancy,she would have learned that she cared too much about the opinionsof her peers. “While this may seem like normal teenage behavior,what made my mentality unhealthy was the lengths to which Iwas willing to go in order to satisfy others’ expectations of me.

This observation may not have prevented my teen pregnancy, butit would have helped me avoid subsequent painful life decisionsI made from that point on.” The same need for acceptance andvalidation would often haunt us when we emerged in different social settings.We could have become more self-awareof our tendency to gainattention and acceptance by any means necessary. That revelationoftenallowsus to place limitations on how and to whatlengths weare willing to indulge in certain relationships.

Oftentimes our disposition for not looking back is rooted inthe fact that we cannot change what happened. Maybe you have setboundaries for the people you have allowed into your life but havenotset boundaries for yourself. Such necessary boundaries developcharacter and integrity. You must be willing to ask yourself ifyou are making a decision from a place of fear and insecurity orfrom the strength necessary to maintain your esteem. Fear-baseddecisions yield devastating results. If you have chosen to maintain anunhealthy mind-setout of fear of starting over, you will never beable to realize the full potential of your life.

Now, let us take a moment to dissect your pattern. Are yousurrounded by people who constantly take from you but add verylittle to your life? Ever wonder why thesetypes of people are attracted to you? Betteryet, have you ever wondered why you continueto attract those types of people? Manypeople feel a sense of value when they areneeded by other people, even if that particularneed turns into codependency. It may be because you oncefelt indispensable and now only feel comfortable in relationshipswhere someone cannot survive without you.

Perhaps you have a difficult time being vulnerable in relationships.You may have a history of choosing friends and partnerswho are emotionally unavailable to you. Their emotional unavailabilitymakes you feel rejected, yet you cannot seem to walk away.Oftentimes this is an indication that the connection you long tohave with them needs to start with rebuilding the connection youhave with yourself.

Or perhaps you have a difficult time receiving love. It could bebecause abandonment issues have made you believe that people areunreliable and will ultimately walk away. Did your toxic relationshipwith a parent affect you more than you woud like to admit? Doyou have a history of giving yourself to people who fail to see yourvalue? Are you struggling with forgiveness? There could be countlessscenarios and situations that have created your pattern, butyou must be willing to search for the patterns that have developedin your life that reflect the current state of your soul.

As you dig beneath the surface, you will begin to understandhow your current patterns are truly just manifestations of pastemotions.

There will come a time in all of our lives when we face issuesthat make us feel incomplete. How we process those feelings ofinadequacy and learn to form a proper defense against them iscritical in moving forward. The facade of recovery where hurt stillexists creates an infection that viciously spreads from our heartsand through our actions. Eventually it becomes the standard forwhat we deem acceptable in our lives.

In order to avoid repeating toxic patterns, we must be diligentin understanding the circumstances that produced them inthe first place. Many of us long for intimacy and acceptance fromother people, but we fail to master the type of self-discoverythatallows us to achieve intimacy within. How can we ask someone tolove our hearts if we donot even know?

There are many variables that make the thought of unravelingour decisions and retracing our steps frightening. If we are goingto commit to achieving a positive outlook on things that oncedevastated us, we will have to believe that the worst things thathappened to us have the potential to work for our benefit. Manyof us unwittingly give our power away by living in a version ofour stories that only leaves room for us to be a victim. There aremoments in life when we find ourselves victimized, but such amoment does not have to become our identity.

NO LONGER A VICTIM

The word victim derives from the fifteenth-centuryLatin wordvictima. In its original context the word was used to denote acreature killed as a religious sacrifice. The meaning of that wordhas since evolved to its current definition, “a person who is hurt,

tortured, or killed by another.” While both definitions hold similarities,there is an important word in the fifteenth-centuryderivative that has not passed the test of time: sacrifice. At somepoint between the fifteenth century and the eighteenth centurythe definition began to focus more on the pain that exists and notthe sense of loss that leaves many feeling as though they have beensacrificed.

The poison that taints our memories of the past didnot justcome from the hurt we experienced; it also came from the sacrificeswe made to endure those moments. While we strive to takea look back at our history, we may mourn the things we feel welost. That loss may have been even more extreme than the painof the hurt.

Some of you had an outside perpetrator who victimized you.Others had unhealthy, internal thought patterns that you allowedto have too much control over your actions. Still others of you mayhave become so comfortable in your decisions that you chose toturn a blind eye to that destructive behavior. Though the crimesmay vary, the shame that comes with feeling as though we havebeen robbed is universal. That feeling of loss halts us from everreliving those moments again. But, there is good news for you.The moments that left you feeling shattered are the most instrumentalin producing your healing. That may be a thought toounfathomable to conceive, but it creates a beautiful and necessaryvulnerability.

It can become so easy to set boundaries for the people weallow to come into our lives, but very rarely do we take a momentto create boundaries for ourselves. These necessary boundariesdevelop character and integrity after our downfalls.

WHAT ARE YOUR PATTERNS

Have you ever taken time to consider your own emotional patterns?As we talked about thoughts producing emotions andemotions producing actions, we must go one step further and considerthe repeated thoughts that create recurring emotions andtherefore yield habitual actions. Understanding those patternswill require opening the dark closets of our hearts and dissectingthe memories we thought were buried. We must begin to ask ourselves:Why did this happen to me? What did it teach me? How

do I keep it from ever happening again?

The patterns in your life will determine the differencebetween the destruction of your life or the construction of it. It isup to you to choose.

Teenagers quest in hopes that they will discover what theywished they had received. That search for fulfillment often leadsto even more disappointment. The holes in your life were notmeant to be filled with substitutes for real love or the affirmationof attention. The holes in your life that have made you feel themost empty were created to be filledwith the knowledge of God. You maynot always recognize the knowledgeof God when you are in the midst ofsorting through the messes of life,but His sovereignty is all about takingissues that once seemed hopeless andproducing life anew. Accepting theknowledge of God is not just believingthat He is real, but trusting that even your darkest momentswere created so that light could shine through you.

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