Week 7: Emotional Drivers of Repeating Patterns

Learn how to pause, observe, and identify the emotion that is driving any repeating pattern in your life, large or small.

The key to breaking a repeating pattern is to identify the emotion that is driving the pattern, so that we can apply emotional intelligence techniques to the underlying emotion, and thereby break the pattern.

This week, we will talk about the best types of pattern to start breaking first, and choose one pattern to be the focus for this week’s and next week’s practices.

What to do Next:
  1. Watch videos (0701, 0703)
  2. Try the guided Emotional Drivers practice (0702) to identify the emotion behind a repeating pattern
  3. Reflect and/or journal about
    a) the video content and
    b) your emotional drivers
  4. Continue practising the Emotional Pressure Release technique – see whether any information about emotional drivers emerges during this practice
  5. Make a time with your coach to guide you through a personalized Pattern Release Practice.
Multimedia Course Content

Video 0701: Choosing A Pattern To Break

Taking stock of the repeating patterns in your life, and selecting the right one to use for next week’s Pattern Break practice.

Guided Practice: The Emotional Driver

Once you have identified a pattern you wish to break, it is essential that you locate the underlying emotion that is driving that pattern. This guided practice takes you step by step through the process.

The Emotional Driver (audio)

by Jenny Hale | Emotional Mastery Program

During a transformation, it’s understandable to be hesitant about moving too fast, especially at the outset.

Irene Rosenfeld

Video 0703: Resistance to Change

Why do we resist the changes we most want to make in life? How can we overcome our resistance and break the patterns that hold us prisoner?

  1. What is the first repeating pattern you would like to break? (Choose one that is non-trivial, but not too overwhelming.)
  2. What happens when you do the Emotional Drivers practice?
  3. Have your chosen Emotional First Aid techniques become habits now, or do you need more practice? Are there any obstacles to practising the techniques?

Review Earlier Weeks

Review Earlier Weeks

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why can’t we simply break repeating patterns through willpower and developing better habits?

A: Repeating patterns emerge when there are internal conflicts – either a conflict between the analytical mind and the subconscious, or a conflict between two different subconscious processes.

Often, the subconscious is trying to protect us from feeling an emotion that we decided earlier in life was too dangerous to feel. At other times, the subconscious is trying to keep us alive by keeping us from doing anything new and different, or by keeping us from doing things that produced painful experiences in our childhood.

Until we understand what the subconscious is achieving by running the pattern, we will not be able to break the pattern. Through willpower, we might be able to suppress the pattern for a while, but as soon as we are tired, sick, stressed, or emotionally triggered, back it will come.

We can only free ourselves of the pattern permanently when we resolve the internal conflict – and that requires the emotional intelligence skill of coordination between the analytical and the experiencing consciousnesses.

Q: When I think about changing my attachment style, I feel terrified and hopeless. Is it really possible to change such a deep need with these simple practices?

A: It is one of the blessings of living in the 21st century that we now know how to heal these developmental traumas.

When a pattern is founded on an early childhood trauma, it seems as though it is as immovable as a mountain. 40 years ago, you would have been told to learn to live with it, as nothing could be done.

But we now know that we always have access to neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to rewire itself ongoingly throughout your lifetime.

The practices you have learned so far are building in you the skills and habits that will allow you to make deep, permanent changes to your emotional system. Even these early practices alone can enable powerful shifts. In later weeks, we will learn more complex and directive practices to access specific emotional information and change specific patterns. The more practised you are at the early exercises, the faster you will master the more complex ones in the coming weeks.


1 + 5 =

Additional Exploration

References, optional further study and additional practices

Academic References

Asma, S., and Gabriel, R. (2019). The Emotional Mind: The Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition Harvard University Press.

Rock, D., and Ringleb, A (2017) Handbook of Neuroleadership CreateSpace Publishers.

For at least 200 million years, the emotional brain has been under construction. By comparison, the focus of the cognitive approach, the expansion of the ‘rational’ neocortex around 1.8 million years ago is a latecomer on the scene, and the development of our language-symbol system is younger still. As a suite of adaptive tools, the emotions have been at work substantially longer than rational cognition, so it makes little biological sense to think about the mind as an idealised rational cost-benefit computer.

When you delve into it, the question of how people change through therapy can make your head swim. Two people sit in a room and talk, every week, for a set amount of time, and at some point one of them walks out the door a different person, no longer beleaguered by pain, crippled by fear or crushed by despair. Why? How?

Neuroscience research teaches us that uncertainty registers in our brain much like an error does. It needs to be corrected before we can feel comfortable again. 

Take a quick quiz to uncover the sometimes subtle ways that perfectionism affects our work, relationships, and state of mind.

On one hand, we are hardwired to resist uncertainty—our brain prefers a predictable, negative outcome over an uncertain one. On the other hand, our mind is flexible and adaptive—it can be trained to thrive in change.

Fear of change is subtle. It operates under the radar, convincing you that it’s there to protect you and keep you safe.

Choices that can Change Your Life

Caroline Myss shines a light on the best places to focus when choosing patterns to break.

The Power of Neuroplasticity

One woman’s story of how dramatically we can change when we focus on learning new skills and rewiring our neural pathways.

About Ross Rosenberg

Ross Rosenberg is a psychotherapist, educator, expert witness and author, with more than 30 years of experience. He owns Clinical Care Consultants, a Chicago area counseling center, and Self Love Recovery Institute. A psychotherapist since 1988, Ross is also an international speaker, author, and professional trainer. He is an expert in codependency (Self-Love Deficit Disorder (SLDD)™), narcissism, trauma and sex addiction. Ross’s Human Magnet Syndrome books (2013 and 2018) have sold over 90,000 copies and are translated into five other languages.

For those seeking to break deep-seated relationship patterns, Ross’ work provides a useful guide as to the underlying emotional drivers of damaging relationship patterns.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”

Thich Nhat Hanh