Patterns in my life that I trace every day,
Patterns as I say the things I always say,
Patterns in the ceiling as I lie awake,
Why are patterns haunting every move I make?

The lyrics above are from the musical, BABY, by Maltby & Shire.

What are your patterns? What do you lather, rinse and repeat regularly? Are they serving you, are they haunting you? Are you even aware they are there?

I posed the question of self-sabotage to my studio group this weekend, and was not surprised to see that many who responded knew EXACTLY what they do and how they do it. They know better, yet get overwhelmed, and begin to follow what is a pattern, because it’s familiar perhaps?

Patterns, and behaviors do not need to be negative. However, we can go on automatic pilot so easily we forget to stay present in the behavior, stay present in the pattern, and instead of us leading it, it leads us; it changes and confuses us; and suddenly we are somewhere overwhelming, or outside where we thought we would be.

We tend to gravitate toward an “all or nothing” approach; to a complex approach; to a feeling approach - which creates more feelings, more anxiety, more overwhelm.

I posted a meme on my Insta-story today and it said this: “DONE is better than PERFECT.”

We are not perfect, and will never be, because what is that anyway?

Is it done? Is it complete? Can we use it? Will it serve us?

THIS is perhaps the pattern we need to build: complete in order to access and use.

Complete in its simplicity. A pattern of steps toward done. A pattern of steps that is simple, is breathable, is negotiated without anxiety.

I hear “I don’t have…” “I struggle with…” “I can’t..”

I see frustration. Self-sabotage. Delusion. Frustration. Fear. Struggle.

All are patterns we create. They were not created for us.

Language reveals so much. I am constantly addressing that in the studio, and in my own self-talk.

We are human beings. We are artists. We are, by nature, complex. Therefore, that complexity already exists. We do not need to add to it. We need to stretch and give permission to create simplicity to access it. Simple steps. Gentle self-talk. Guidance. New patterns.

Even something like this sabotage: “I am fat.” So much is implied in this statement.

What if we change that to: “I HAVE fat.”

Sit with that a moment. It does change the pattern of expectation, of self-talk, of self-sabotage. It changes the pattern of ACTION immediately.

This is why I speak of the voice in 3rd person. This is why my overall philosophy of singing and technique begins with this:

The voice itself is fine. Where she/he chooses to reside is not always optimal, and the voice simply lets us know what needs to change to allow a more functional place to move into.

Suddenly the pattern isn’t self-loathing, self-hate, self-sabotage.

Suddenly the new pattern of discovery has the possibility of positive action; positive discovery.

So, as you start to acknowledge what your patterns are, don’t bury yourself in them! Recognizing behavior and patterns gives your permission to create new ones that are more positive, more simplistic, more action driven to support you, lighten your load, empower you.

Start the week with the knowledge that perfection is not the goal. ACTION is. Deliberate, present, full-invested ACTION is how you will create the patterns that you look forward to repeating, and not dread looking at.

I shall do the same.

Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

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