Pattern is not the same as routine--I just want to put that out there for all my Type-A brothers and sisters who love a good, steady, reliable, comfortable routine, amen and hallelujah. No, patterns are altogether different creatures. While routine is a conscious choice, a lifestyle choice over which we have control, patterns are habits we fall into, universal maps of criteria that we seem, more often than not, doomed to repeat, consciously or subconsciously. A good therapist would probably call it self-sabotage.
Too, more often than not, we're unaware of them or aware of them only after the fact--after we realize we're in the *same* relationship *again,* or that we snapped at our spouse/partner/loved one *again* even though we told ourselves we wouldn't. Or we ate the cake, smoked the cigarette, drank the beer and made a fool of ourselves *again.* It's that dreaded "again" that's our first clue, as in, "I can't believe I did that AGAIN."
These things are hard to break, man. Patterns, like tapestry, get stronger and stronger the more threads you weave and jam in there. Or, maybe a more suitable comparison--they're like scar tissue, thick and impossible to break down, to heal. All I can say is awareness helps. When that trigger-word "again" pops up in my groaning inner monologue, I pull out my notebook and write down EXACTLY what I did that I regretted AGAIN. Then I sit there and make myself go through the incidents leading up to the groan-inducing moment, trying to trace it back to the trigger. That's the key, that's the warning bell--the trigger. I memorize that trigger; I picture it. I imagine myself faced with it and I imagine making a different choice. I set that in my poor brain, take notes if I need to, and move on.
It helps, actually. My messed-up and tangled old tapestry is sorting itself out, finally. Maybe. Hopefully. Yes. Hopefully. Yes. Finally.