According to Sean Covey “we become what we repeatedly do.” In other words, our patterns define us. But patterns aren’t just about actions or behaviors, they’re also about what we feel and need. Here we talk about how patterns of our needs, feelings, and behaviors can give us insights into who we are.
Patterns of your needs:
Whatever we do in life, consciously or not, is in an effort to satisfy our needs. If you can identify the patterns of your needs, you’ll start to see which needs drive you the most. Do you need to control your environment all the time? Do you need to be approved and recognized in your relationships? These patterns, over time, will reveal your core values.
Identifying the patterns of your needs, and particularly which of your needs are consistently met, unmet or completely ignored, will also help you see how your life is balanced. Are you constantly struggling to satisfy your need for independence and individuality? Do you pay attention to some of your needs such as achievement and competence at the expense of companionship and belonging?
Patterns of your feelings:
Identifying the patterns of your feelings helps you understand what experiences trigger which emotions in you. It can help you recognize what situations you thrive in and and which situations you struggle with. To discover your passions, for example, look for activities that make you feel engaged and energetic.
Identifying the patterns of your feelings can also help you delve more deeply into understanding why you do and don’t like certain situations. For example, if you hate your job, look at the patterns of your feelings at work. You might realize you are consistently bored. This would suggest that you are someone that craves a challenge or the ability to learn new things.
Patterns of your behaviors:
Identifying the patterns of your behaviors can give you an idea of how you behave in different situations. You might feel like you already know how you behave, but sometimes we aren’t really able to recognize the patterns in our behavior until we are actively looking for them. This is especially true when we compare our patterns of feelings with our behaviors. For example, if you consider yourself to be an impatient person, what feelings generally bring out your impatience? Maybe instead of simply thinking of yourself as an impatient person, you are impatient only when you feel hurt or insecure.
How can I identify my patterns of needs, feelings, and behaviors?
Journaling is a great tool to identify patterns, but a typical journal that consists of a long list of entries about your days might not help you see the patterns. We recommend reflective journaling. Spend 5 or so minutes each day reflecting on one experience. Ask yourself: how did I feel; what did I need; how did I behave?
For more examples and suggestions about reflecting, check out our post “Four things you need to answer when you reflect.”