Is self awareness impacting you?

We are creatures of habit, whether we recognise our habits or not, we all follow them. Our unconscious brain creates patterns of behaviour that determine how we respond and act. This is a part of evolution, enabling us to cope with the minutia of daily living. The stability of society also demands norming behaviour – so people know what to expect from us.

The Core of Behaviour

Our behaviour patterns have been forming since we were born and are a product of our life experience. The majority are formed between the ages of 0 – 7; the ‘imprint stage’ where our core values and beliefs are formed and stored in our subconscious. Our subconscious provides our response and makes our decisions without consultation with our conscious brain. Therefore these patterns often go unnoticed; to do so would require active intent.

When this happens people may start to recognise their patterns, certain issues cropping up on a regular basis. They may seek insight through feedback or observe outcomes that do not live up to expectation, effort or intention. It may be as simple as a feeling that something is not right. Without working to understand these we operate with a significant risk of not recognising unhelpful patterns which may be impacting our performance.

Patterns in action

I recently experienced a manager leading change programme, who saw the questioning of process changes by those undertaking the work as negative defiance. She responded aggressively. The outcome was loss of vital content and information sharing. The net result was process errors that slowed the change programme and the return on investment; not to mention relational and reputational damage.

Having patterns or behavioural models is not a problem until we want to act in a different way. They are hard to change, located within the subconscious brain defined by neurological pathways. As a result when we challenge them it requires energy and feels uncomfortable. Crucially we only see patterns playing out in our behaviours, which means people do not directly see the cause.

Change is deep

We have the choice, to do nothing or seek change. However change needs to occur at cause, which requires the examination of our values and beliefs. The belief that informed the aggressive pattern of the manager mentioned earlier is likely to be unhealthy and limiting. But examining the response and what occurred for her would bring the start of insight.

Our approach to life invites a response; which informs and reinforces patterns and the lens that generated them. For the manager the negative reaction she received from her team and the project outcome reinforced her beliefs and pattern. A vicious circle ensued. The evidence of an issue was clear in the poor relationships and performance level, if the manager or the organisation had chosen to see it.

Where the change starts

We have a choice when it comes to change, to do nothing or to seek a new way. Change comes from understanding cause and seeing; seeing our environment, our relationships and ourselves. This is a core part of how people experience coaching and undertake long lasting change. Gaining understanding at a deeper level that creates the ‘a-ha’ – recognising the subconscious value or belief that impacts them.

The tough love is that as people we create our own destiny and we take responsibility for the outcomes we achieve. What you start out with invites a certain response back. While it feels good to have a scapegoat you are the person that will ultimately deliver change.

Spend a little time reflecting on what you are getting out and consider where your behaviour comes from, because the behaviour will not change without understanding and dealing with the cause.

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