Each time you meet an old emotional pattern with presence, your awakening to truth can deepen. There’s less identification with the self in the story and more ability to rest in the awareness that is witnessing what’s happening. You become more able to abide in compassion, to remember and trust your true home. Rather than cycling repetitively through old conditioning, you are actually spiraling toward freedom. – from Tara Brach, “Finding True Refuge”
This quote is referring to meditation practice, but it can also apply to therapy. “Each time you meet an old emotional pattern with presence” could also be interpreted as “every time you notice your self repeating an unwanted behavior.” This behavior could be anything from having road rage on a regular basis to finding yourself dating the same type of undesirable personality multiple times. The key is to finally recognize the pattern, to learn to witness one’s own behavior.
In meditation one can learn to witness one’s thoughts as they go by, without getting caught up in all the different stories that run through our heads when we are doing so-called nothing. In a similar vein, with therapy it is possible to begin to see how one might be choosing unwisely and acting accordingly, again and again. (You don’t have to learn meditation unless you want to…) Therapy can help to slow things down, to begin to examine behaviors in a different way, to attribute a new meaning to old habits, and to help one find love toward the self despite the same missteps taken (again.)
Re-patterning one’s habits/known choices can be a long spiraling journey. But every time one can face the same negative behavior and know it, then each encounter can begin to be from different parts of the path instead of the same spot. Hopefully, eventually, the demon might even become your familiar friend—a part of self that is recognizable, understandable, know-able— and life can become more about choices/freedom, and less about reactions.