Map out your patterns


This is the next article from Neil on breaking patterns and relationships.

Patterns are everywhere…

In Nature, in your behavior, as well as in your relationships with family.

And if you tend to get stressed out or reactive around certain family members, you can be sure there’s a pattern at play. After all, where there’s reactivity, there’s a wound.

To help avoid falling into those patterns again this year, it helps to map them out…

So, take a few minutes to prepare. Reflect on your past family events and note the specific triggers – people, situations, or conversations – that seem to irritate or upset you…




Maybe when someone talks over you, you get angry and want to shut down or stonewall. Or when two people start arguing, you contract and get anxious. Or when you’re criticized, you bristle and get resentful.

Next, go a step further to dissect those triggers, and name the specific sensitivity that causes a reaction.

Your anger at getting interrupted might be because you feel disrespected or like your opinion isn’t valued. Anxiety around conflict might remind you of your parents fighting when you were young, which made you feel unsafe or placed you in the role of the peacemaker.


The third step is to give these triggers names that don’t trigger you. You can call the first one, for example, Red Light, or The Interrupting Cow (based on the old joke, not mocking the other person).

With simple outlines of these triggers mapped ahead of time, you’re better equipped to notice any incoming swells of reactivity, not take it personally, and interrupt your own pattern before it hits the tipping point (as per the graph I shared recently) because you’ve anticipated their arrival.

And since family time often comes with abundant triggers, this may also be the perfect opportunity to practice the core skills of noticing your somatic signals, and taking time outs—physically or mentally—to pause and reset.


Don’t push through. As soon as you notice and name the pattern, step away and recenter!