When I was about seven years old, I use to hide food everywhere. Platanos, arroz, eggs – you name it, and it landed everywhere else but in my mouth. I hated eating certain foods. If it wasn’t a french fry or a slice of pizza (or yummy chocolate cake) I resisted.
Mami force-fed me many times. I remember that she held my nose while I ate because I wasn’t actually eating. I held in my food in the back of my mouth, right underneath my tongue. I refused to swallow. So Mami did what any mother would do – panic.
She swore I would die. I already had anemia. And so she held my nose, demanded that I eat and swallow, or she’d cut off my breath. Because she brought me into this world…you know the rest.
Mami and I played this game for years. It became a dance, our pattern. Like a salsa pair, we stepped back and forth, side to side, and swayed around the issue – that her forcing me to eat instead of allowing me to slowly embrace food pushed me to hate food, specifically her food.
What I’m getting at is simple. Often times the people that we love, hurt us, and we hurt them. Though we are trying to help and want them to become better, and see our point of view and perspective, we create a dialogue and unhealthy reactionary relationship.
It’s a cycle. These patterns are hard to break. Each one of us plays a role, and even when the roles are damaging to us and our relationship, we sometimes can’t see past our norm. The negative pattern becomes the norm, even when it is oh so bad for us. So, how do we stop negative patterns from continuing? How do we unstitch the patron, stop that dance all together and create new moves that will change our lives for the better? Here are some thoughts.
Be aware of your role. We all play a part in negative patterns. We get comfortable in playing a specific role that ignites the cycle. This is when you have to become self-aware and ask yourself: what role do I play? As soon as you know this, you can choose to play a different part and react differently.
Choose to react differently. In life, everything is a choice. Who you choose to build a life with and even the career that you pursue comes from a choice that you made. So, to break a negative pattern, you have to choose to do something different, something you’ve never tried. If you usually yell, walk away. If you usually place blame on others, take accountability for your actions. If you usually breakdown, be strong and say your piece without breaking. Whatever it is that you have to change, it has to be done. You cannot see different results by doing the same things over and over again.
Take a concrete solution-oriented approach. It sounds robotic, but when you are in the midst of a pattern, you have to clearly define action steps to break the cycle. Often times this is the hardest part. That’s because you’re taking a proactive approach, not reactive. Once you know what you need to do to end a cycle of control, negativity, abandonment, or whatever else haunts you and your relationship, you will be that much stronger and better off. It may mean taking on a new path without your partner, or without the person in your life that doesn’t let you be who you are. Picky eater and all.