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Building Detailed Pattern Profiles – Activity Guide

INTRODUCTION

 

Many, many moons ago, I went to see a counsellor at my university for four sessions as I needed to talk to somebody as I actually felt like I was going crazy when I was involved with my ex-fiance. I only went for four sessions because I didn’t really find it to be of any benefit and she got really impatient with me one day. “You said you wanted to talk to me about your fiance, but all you’ve done is talk about your mother!” she snapped. Honestly, I hadn’t even noticed but it was true and afterwards I had a lightbulb moment – aside from the fact that I seemed to be in some weird dynamic with my mother even though we lived in different countries, he (my ex) and my mother were actually similar and how I felt and behaved around him was also similar. And wait for it – my ex was eleven years older than me and he was also in terms of aspects of his lifestyle, height, attitude very similar to my father, to the point where when I ‘reunited’ with my father and his family and they met my ex, there were more than a few raised eyebrows.

When I did a list of positive and negative traits and behaviours and compared my parents with my exes, I nearly fell off my chair in shock – I have been out with almost every variation of my parents, and it explains why I felt like a child in some of my relationships and also why it all felt so ‘familiar’. It was however, a few more years before I realised that I had been behaving/thinking in ways that I said I didn’t like in my parents/exes, that I was actually doing myself.

If you compare the positive and negative traits, as well as any standout behaviours (positive or negative), things they’ve said, how you’ve felt, and what you do around the key players in your life – likely to be mother, father, caregiver, possibly a sibling, or a bully, abuser, an ex or exes, a boss, friend, a frustrating coworker, or any other significant person in your past/present – you will see similarities and repetition, i.e. a pattern. When you see it all out on paper, you can start to understand why you find certain qualities in others really important, why someone who didn’t treat you very well feels like ‘home’, where you’re trying to right the wrongs of the past, and why, for instance, you keep feeling the same way in a variety of situations.

 

ABOUT THE ACTIVITY

For this activity which may take some time or you may want to spread it out over the next couple of weeks, I want you to build up a detailed profile of your key players. An editable PDF worksheet is available from your course page which of course can also be printed out.

Even if you think you have the most fandabidozi relationship with your parents or primary caregiver(s), these are two people you definitely need to do. Some you may not know a great deal about them (for instance an absent parent) but put down whatever you do know plus what you think about you in the context of them, what you feel was missing etc.

I would include:

  • Any person where you couldn’t seem to get past a perceived ‘rejection’.
  • Any person who you have put on an excessive pedestal.
  • Anyone with whom you’ve had a significant romantic involvement with whether it’s good or bad. In fact, try to do as many exes as you possibly can – trust me, the information is invaluable.
  • A person whom you seek validation from.
  • Anybody with major issues in your life that you can’t seem to untangle yourself from.
  • That person who you’re expending a hell of a lot of brainpower on.
  • People who you’ve found yourself being and doing stuff that is not actually representative of you.
  • Any person who is a source of shame/blame.
  • Any person who you’ve felt like or gone over the edge with and found it difficult to recover from the interaction.

 

The worksheet has spaces for some particular areas:


Building Detailed Pattern ProfilesPositive and negative traits
– list whatever you can think of and add to the lists when more stuff pops into your head. Examples: charming, charismatic, judgmental, dramatic, irresponsible.

Professed values – Values they claimed that they have – values are about what you believe you need in order to be fundamentally happy and authentic. These can be personal values (which may look similar to some of the positive/negative traits and includes morals), religious, political, social, economic, family etc. Example: “They insisted that they were very honest”

Actual values – Values they have demonstrated in your experience of them. Example: “They have frequently been dishonest.” A prime example of this is that I hear from a lot of people who have a key player in their life who insists that they are certain things that they’re not. Example: The judgmental person spouting about morals who has loads of affairs.

Behaviours you find most frustrating – What gets on your nerves about this person? What stresses you out?

How you feel/think/act around this person – Do you become childlike? Passive? Aggressive? People-pleasing? More relaxed? Do you have boundaries? Do you feel anxious? Do you worry about rejection? Do you turn into someone else? Do you explain too much? Are you yourself? Happy?

Any standout positive and negative experiences/memories of them? Write down anything that springs to mind especially anything that tends to spiral you into a negative thought pattern.

What was missing from your relationship with this person? If something was missing from your relationship, something that you feel has left you with a void and/or that you seem to seek from others, note it here.
Building Detailed Pattern Profiles

You can fill out the editable PDF – you will need to do a ‘save as’ for each one – or print out the sheets. Or jot down the answers in your journal. I do find with this type of activity that pen and paper really get the mind going, even if you decide to type up your ‘investigation notes’ afterwards.

There is an additional notes sheet. For now, note anything else that you feel is relevant, for instance, anything that they say with regularity to you or about you.

When you have completed at least a few of your profiles, the fun begins when you begin to compare your notes. Use highlighter to flag up any similarities, jot down any lightbulb moments, pull out the key terms/phrases/ descriptions that come up again and again and write each one on their own Post-It/sheet of paper – you are identifying a theme, a core thread that is running through your pattern.

This activity does look at aspects of you, but there will be another activity that fits in with this one where you will explore you in greater detail. Remember to keep all activity work because they all fit together and provide you with a great deal of insight and self-knowledge that you will draw upon throughout the course. Take your time, have fun with this activity, and be creative with your note-taking.

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