Our spiritual practice encourages us to be sensitive and curious about what is happening to us. We become aware of our thoughts, our behaviors, and our reactions in particular situations. We suddenly realize that on occasions we act like robots. We respond to external triggers without even being aware whether these action will be beneficial for us or not. Observing our own behavior and thoughts gives us the opportunity to understand how we function on a deeper level. Slowly, we will be able to abort negative loops and start creating positive patterns.
It is not easy to overwrite patterns that we have acted out all our life. That is the reason why the Tao presents us with challenges and bumps in the road. Nobody will make a change when the going is good, but we will likely decide that a change is worthwhile when the going gets tough. It will take a while to release negative energy cycles but once we know that the old patterns were poisonous, we will at least try. New actions bring new energy cycles and new thoughts create new neural pathways.
It all starts with the observation that our old patterns are harmful. Every addiction is an extreme example of a self-defeating behavior; yet, it doesn't have to come that far. When you see any surprising or harmful behaviors, try to stop them in the tracks and just see what happens.The negative energy is still there and will try to find other outlets. Experience this negative drive and be one with it. Carry on with your life and just be aware of the lingering negative energy.
In the beginning you probably can't completely stop this harming behavior, but at least you already engage in it. Don't be frustrated and just keep going. At least you are now aware of all the China that soon will break on the floor, and just maybe you can do some last-minute damage control. Being mindful is already a first step towards detachment. Be patient! Maybe it will take several years to break free from the old patterns but you will get there eventually.
Even if you do well most of the times, your self-defeating patterns will always return when you are not doing so well. However, your self-awareness and your ability to handle the situation will improve all the time. It turns out that you can have fun as a spiritual traveler during the good as well as the bad times. Interacting with the Tao and learning about yourself is fun no matter what. Make a habit of letting go of the old ways. It gets easier over time.
By Christian and Su Zhen