How to change patterns


A few months ago I moved into a new situation where the kitchen has a door that is easily slammed. Our upstairs neighbor complains every time it slams. I couldn’t seem to keep from  slamming the door. We tried putting on a door closer to keep it from slamming and it made the door hard to open, especially with an arm full of groceries.

It was gently suggested to me that I pay more attention and not be in such a hurry. I realized that it was true, I only slammed the door when I was in a hurry, not being present and not paying attention to gently closing the door. How was I going to change patterns, actions that I didn’t even realize I was doing?

So I’ve taken this on as a practice in being mindful and present. Pattern change has been slow going. I noticed that sometimes the door knob would be difficult to turn and realized that this happened when it was slammed. At first, I wouldn’t realize that I had slammed the door until I came back and found the knob hard to turn. Sometimes others would support me by making me aware that I had slammed it.

Then as I slowed down and paid more attention, I would hear the door slam and then realize I had done it again. Those times were the most difficult to keep from getting mad at myself, the place where I was being more aware, starting to change my behavior, and still doing it again.

I am now at the place where I remember, most of the time, to close the door gently. There are definitely times I still forget and am focused on where I’m going instead of where I am. I think they are getting less and I think this practice has helped me be more present at other times and ways in my life.

What are some places in your life that would benefit from your moving more slowly and consciously? How have you already been paying attention to these patterns? Have you been sending gentle and kind attention to yourself?

So you want to make some changes. What can you use for motivation? How do you think of approaching this pattern change? What kinds of support would you like? What’s the first step (after being gentle with yourself)?

setting intentions

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Nature has laws, like gravity, that are accepted as part of life. Intentions seem to have similar laws. Intentions are not demands – they are desires. Intentions are a statement of the willingness to put one’s heart into something and let go of the outcome, a willingness to do the inner and outer work needed for manifestation and an openness to manifestation happening in mysterious ways.

Guidelines to setting intentions:

  1. I clarify my needs, wants and desires.
  2. I create an intention that is specific, positive and flexible.
  3. Ask consciously and let go
  4. Be patient knowing that life takes time,
  5. I keep clarifying and
  6. I watch for opportunities or manifestations that don’t look like I thought.

Setting intentions

Intentions are not demands. They are desires, a statement of the willingness to put one’s heart into something and let go of the outcome, a willingness to do the inner and outer work needed for manifestation and an openness to manifestation happening in mysterious ways.

Clarify and Ask

The universe attempts to give us what we expect. The universe doesn’t tend to give what we want; it gives what we are focused on. One needs to be clear enough about what is desired to ask clearly/specifically so the universe knows what you desire. Clarifying intention and being ready to receive is vital to getting something that works when it comes. Once you have made your request, feel the wish fulfilled and let it go.

When I was tired of “being poor” and was asking to win the lotto. I came to realize that I was unsure and questioning my intention because I had heard that people who win a bunch of money change. What I would do with it? How would my life change? What did I desire to be different?

I came to realize that money wasn’t what I really desired. I sought the freedom and ability to do meaningful work, to have times to rest and to spend more time with my family. This basic desire could also include, independence, stability, or generosity. By clarifying the desires, I clarify the essence of the desires and let the universe provide the means of accomplishing them.

When I set intention I watch my words, focus on what I desire and remember to feel the wish fulfilled.

The words might be something like

“I am grateful for my many blessings, I ask for and am ready to receive _______. “

or “I ask and am grateful for your continued support in assisting me to manifest ____________.”

Be specific and flexible

I may desire a house, so I focus on the basic desires –enough room for the whole family, affordable, in a good neighborhood with good schools, etc or whatever is important to me. I don’t ask the universe for this particular house that I’ve seen. Focusing on the basic needs of the desire grants more flexibility and allows the universe to work it’s magic.

The universe also asks you to help. For instance in asking for a partner, I clarify the base desires that I am seeking to meet with having a partner. Is it day-to-day companionship, children, sexuality, physical touch, emotional support, family, and/or _____________? I take each desire individually, looking at what I need to do to help me step out of being desperate in this area. I come up with at least 3 ways I will explore to fulfill this desire and try them out. Do they help me satisfy this need or do I seek more possibilities?

I work to be able to let this intention manifest and get ready to accept and be open to its blessings.

Be patient, keep clarifying and watch for opportunities.

When I focus on my basic needs and desires, Universal life force energy will often provide in mysterious and unusual ways.

The manifestation process is often a process of gestation and takes time. Just as in waiting for the birth of a child, our desires often have their own birth time. The time just before birthing is sometimes filled with concerns, impatience or the old patterns trying to reclaim their position.

Sometimes, what I had asked for is manifest in ways that aren’t so desirable. I notice where I was not clear and specific enough. I’m grateful to the universe for it’s attempt and use the new information to clarify and detail my request.

Other times I notice that by the time I get what I was asking for, my needs and desires have changed. When I have been specific about basic desires and flexible I usually get what I’m happy with now instead of what I had originally imagined I wanted.

A daily practice of gratitude for what is working in our lives opens us to the grace that fills our lives. We become more aware of the small life changes and movements in the directions we desire.

What is “Power with”?

Have you heard the concept of “power with”? This concept has fascinated and inspired me. Our culture portrays dominance and control, “power over”, as the only form of power. This form of acquiring power puts us at odds with each other, limits the power of the individual, and keeps the individual small and ineffective, for awhile.

The concept of “power with”, speaks to me of the connection to our own inner knowing or goodness and an understanding of our connection to something greater than ourselves, to the energies around us, each other, and life force energy.  “Power with” has many aspects; planting crops in rhythm with the seasons, waiting for a quiet time to discuss something of importance with a loved one, a barn raising, taking on a common intention or goal that changes the course of events, and so much more. It can be something big like Ghandi changing the course of India by leading peaceful demonstrations. Or perhaps something small like seeing a kindness given out and the ripple effect it creates. Or a group of enlivened, engaged individuals determined to stop something they disagree with in their own back yard. I remember the first time I noticed this having happened in my daily life.

I was living in San Francisco and there was this one spot along the freeway where the road branched and the branching section only went a few feet and stopped. I asked a friend and found out that the plan was that the freeway continue right into Golden Gate Park.  There was such a tremendous public outcry that the only thing left of this idea was the branching piece of freeway going no where. Whenever I drove past there, I would feel encourage and inspired by the power we have when we stand together.

Most recently, just south of us, the citizens of Mills River, NC stopped Duke Energy from building a “Transmission” line through their land. “Power with” is still real and alive.

Have you seen examples of “power with” in your life?

What else have you found that is life affirming?

Do you “should” yourself?

You may not have thought of “should” as a judgmental word? It isn’t as clearly judgmental as stupid, ugly or thief and yet when we use “should”, we are expressing a clear judgment of right or wrong, an insistence that it be, as it “should”.

I think our beliefs and concepts about life influence the words we use and our language often determines the feelings and beliefs we hold in a situation. In studying language and its effects on people, one of my fascinations is the connection between thoughts, feelings and language. 

Using “should” frequently seems to keep us mentally, and often emotionally, in a state of vague anxiety and tension. It helps promote “Fight or Flight” reactions which keep us out of the more clear thinking parts of the brain.

I lived with this for many years before recognizing how I was affected. Then for many years after I worked on this, with my friends helping me notice when I was “shoulding” myself. The word “should” seems an ingrained pattern in our culture that I found difficult to change. One of my challenges was finding words to use that weren’t just another way to boss myself around.

Here are some common ways “I should” is used, different ways to work with the emotional content of words and several possible replacements. This is just a beginning list of possibilities.


1) Using should for everyday tasks gives them importance they don’t deserve and creates stress in our lives. Also when we boss ourselves around, we often resist. Using “should” can more often derail our intentions than keep us on track.

I should take out the trash. (clean my room, do the dishes, go the store, etc.).


The trash is getting full. Time to take it out soon.

The trash is getting full. I can smash it down and have some more room.

I have a couple things to get from the store. Do I need to do it now? How can I fit it in?

I don’t want to do the dishes and I’d really like a clean kitchen in the morning.

I’d rather do the dishes now.

I don’t usually mind doing dishes and right now, I’m just too tired.


2) This next phrase is the epitome of “shoulding” oneself. I put this phrase into pairs, the “should” phrase first and then a replacement. Say these pairs one after the other out loud and notice if there is a different feeling for you between the two.

I should be __________(thiner, kinder, more successful, a better parent, etc.).

Should phrase                                        Replacements

I should be thinner.                                  I would like to be thinner.

I should be more successful                     What steps would help me be more successful?

I should be kinder.                                     I will do a kindness for someone today.

I should be a better parent.                        I’m doing OK. I’d like to do better at this one thing.


3)This is a great example of “should” making something that comes from the heart into an obligation instead of a desire to connect.


I should love my neighbor.


I’ll think more about what it means to me to “love my neighbor”.

I’d like to make friends with my neighbors.

I seek to be more loving and loved.

I can only love others as well as I love myself.


So I’ve been playing with replacing “should” in our language, look for more play with words and hoping I’ve helped lighten your experience of living.