Procedures, memories, patterns

We all have well-established habits of thought, emotion, reaction and judgement, and without the keen awareness of practice, we’re just acting out these patterns.

When they arise, we’re not aware they’ve arisen.
We get lost in them, identify with them, act on them  —  so much of our life is just acting out patterns.

Joseph Goldstein

As I was washing my hands the other evening  before the meal I turned on the tap marked “C” and started to wash.  After a moment something registered, and I thought “this water is cold, it should be getting warm by now”. And then I realized that “C” in an anglophone country like Ireland refers to “cold” whereas “C” in a francophone bathroom would indicate hot water. I noticed that my behaviour had been automatic, done without conscious awareness,  based on procedural,  formed,  memories. I had turned the “C” tap without thinking and gradually my brain caught up with the fact that this was not France and that the patterned behaviour would not get the desired result.

Frequently we operate on procedural memories or knowledge. This is fine for something like driving, which is fairly automatic regardless of whether one is driving on the right or the left. However, doing things in an automatic way can mean that we fit things into familiar boxes, or do not see things as new but presume that they will be the same as before. We do not give the moment a chance to reveal any new riches, because we have it figured out even before it happens. We can reduce others and,  even more frequently,  ourselves,  to limited pre-defined expectations and not believe in any possibility for change.

4 thoughts on “Procedures, memories, patterns

  1. This is really good. I’m noticing my patterned responses and paying close attention to what works and what doesn’t. Habits are hard to break, but thank goddess it is possible.

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