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3 Steps to Keep Moving Forward Even If You’ve Moved Back Home

How to Stop Regressing to the Past: An SOS for College Students Now Living At Home

How many of you feel like you’ve taken a giant step backward?

Moving home, even if due to a situation out of your control, can seem like a failure. From someone whose had a “failure to launch” type of situation myself I know how unnatural and disheartening it can feel.

Before you know it, the personal growth, independence and successes you developed from being on your own is pushed aside as old patterns of being “the child” come back into play.

When I moved home after a semester of my Freshman year the initial rush of comfort and safety soon grew into a feeling of being boxed in by the past.
I felt easily activated and irritated with busy mind that WOULD NOT SHUT UP and a very tired body.

My interactions with my family became snappy and my old friends just didn’t seem to get me anymore. It became hard to focus on my studies and my motivated to follow through became sluggish.

I noticed that my old patterns on how to deal with life’s stressors resurfaced. And that those patterns had a sneaky way of sucking me back to the past. With this resurgence of the old all the growth I had achieve got suppressed until it seemed a million miles away…

Truth is when we visit old circumstances or environments (like having to move back home!) we tend to go back to the past.

We reference what was to figure out how to deal with what is and to see what can be. And our behaviors, mind-sets and reaction patterns regress to that same past point.

You time-warp and before you know it all the space, strength and forward progress you have made is gone in the blink of an eye.

This is not an unusual phenomenon. Unfortunately, it occurs more for all of us then we would like to admit. It’s way too easy is it to revert to being the bratty younger sister, the bossy older brother, the insolent child in normal adult situations – like coming home for the holidays or school reunions.

Now that college students are back at home for the foreseeable future this pain point is wide spread and compounded by the uncertain times we are living in. It’s not surprising that you may be struggling with ways to cope!

Luckily there are tricks to flip out of these old reaction patterns, come back to the present moment and keep moving your life forward (it just takes presence and practice!).

3 Steps for Recognizing and Changing Old Patterns as They Resurface

Step # 1 – Become Aware of Old Patterns

Cognitive and behavioral patterns are unconscious reactions that have been fine tuned and grooved in over time. The are like a push-start system and are hard to change since they activate quickly and can seem like part of our personality.

It’s why so many people work hard and take a long time to experience any change in their life. It all moves faster – and easier! – once you create space around these patterns.

Start to develop an observer’s perspective. Before you speak – take beat. Before you act – pause. Then watch. What’s your first inclination? To bite back? To storm away? To shrink and bow down? To push through?

As you interact with the world around you, begin the work of self-observation and you’ll start to notice space developing around your reactions. Once you practice this enough that space can be used for the next two steps.

Step #2 – Stop Judging the Old Patterns (And YOU by extension)

Judgment is a killer.  If deem things “wrong” then you hide, fight or shame yourself.  If you deem them “right” then you get blinded into a pattern and it’s all you see; it becomes the only possible scenario to move forward.  Both of these extremes lock you out of total awareness and creative power. 

Most become aware (step #1) then judge what they are aware of – is this reaction right or wrong?  We waste a lot of time and energy in this judging process.  Afterall, there isn’t really a right or wrong – there is just what we choose in any given moment and what that choice creates.

Instead practice self-kindness, put on your investigators hat and ask the following questions:

What if I’m not right or wrong here, what if this was just a pattern I’ve been functioning from?

What is following this pattern going to create in my life?

What other possibilities are there?

By opening up this exploration – without judgment – you will start to become more aware of possibilities that may lead you in a more fun and expansive direction. 

Step #3 – Choose Something Different

Becoming aware of your patterns and coming out of judgment are huge milestones but they won’t actually steer your life in a new direction.  You need to take ACTION to do that.  

By choosing one of the new possibilities that step #2 lead you into you can start to explore and experiment with your life.  Don’t take this too seriously.  I see this stage as a living lab on what I’d like my life to be.

We choose something new then experience what our lives feel and look like.  If you don’t like it – choose something else.  If you do – then you’ve just taken a huge step into greater self-awareness and now have a guiding light into a more generative future.

Moving Forward…

I know right now you may be feeling bored, stifled, restless and a whole host of other things with your homecoming… You may also be worried as you look about this every changing and very uncertain world.

Please remember that you aren’t alone and that you do have a future waiting for you on the other side of this.  And that it’s the choices you make right now that will dictate what that future will be.  Cheers to bigger and brighter!

Check out this podcast for more tips and exercises on this topic:  When Old Patterns Resurface

Where we explore:

  • Regression triggers and how the “old us” comes back to bite us
  • How referencing the past to figure out the present doesn’t work
  • How to un-do the internal battle of the old you and the new you
  • A simple question to pull you out of this pattern instantly
  • A way to use the past, present and future to be more of you in every moment
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