Behaviour Patterns


We all have them, but what does it mean and how are we affected? There are currently around seven and a half billion human beings on the planet, each one simply unique. We are conditioned, built and shaped by the environment around us, the things we have witnessed or been subjected to by the individuals that we meet and situations we have faced. These factors can then cause certain types of behavioural patterns that we may repeat throughout our life.

What is a behavioural pattern?

Behavioural pattern, put in its simplest term, is “The characteristic way in which a person or animal acts” (Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers)

For it to be defined as a behavioural pattern, it is or has been a chain of actions/thoughts that have occurred in certain patterns within your life, often repeated over and over again.

Different types of behavioural patterns

The different types of behavioural patterns can vary but include:
  • Passive aggressive tendencies
  • Hostility
  • Codependency traits
  • Quick tempered
  • Acting on impulse
  • Self-sabotage
  • Being attracted to the same sort of person each time

Some behaviours can be learnt by result of experience. Any person, regardless of his or her background, can be conditioned to act in a certain way. This can begin right at the start of your childhood – for example, if you have been brought up in a house where someone suffers with anxiety, then your learnt behaviour can be to cope or deal with things in a similar way. This can then give the impression that you yourself may have anxiety, however this is not necessarily always the case as this could be a learnt behaviour instead .

What actions can occur with a behaviour pattern?

It’s important to remember that we all react to events and process emotions in different ways. For example, if faced with danger, you may often hear the phrase ‘fight or flight’ and it’s the same with behavioural patterns.  Often, we distract ourselves in other areas of life to mask what we are really feeling. As a result, we may start:

  • Gambling
  • Retail therapy
  • Grow addicted to sex or become codependent in a relationship (in the general adult population, about 12 million people have a sex addiction)
  • There may be a change in your relationship with food
  • You may begin self-harming
  • You may find yourself in toxic relationships with either friends or partners
  • You may abuse alcohol/drugs (5 million people in the UK show signs of alcohol dependence)

What effects on life can cyclical behaviour patterns have?

Your behaviour pattern can affect many different areas of your life.

  • It can create barriers within relationships between your friends and family, especially if your behaviour patterns are causing outbursts of aggression, causing you to be defensive or to isolate yourself from others.
  • Sometimes a behaviour pattern may cause you to be competitive in certain areas of your life, such as work or fitness, which can lead to unnecessary stress.
  • Day to day tasks can start to become difficult if you’re suffering with an addiction to alcohol, gambling, retail therapy or even your relationship with food. Just what others may see as a simple trip to your local supermarket, may in fact be an extremely big challenge for you.

How can the Counselling Alliance help?

Seeking professional help is a positive step forward in learning more about yourself and understanding the reasons or root cause of why you may fall into the same type of behaviour pattern over and over again in your life. By understanding this better, you can then begin to recognise the cues and prevent the same actions taking place by making more informed choices.  By attending counselling, you are offered the freedom to explore and unravel the emotions that come with your behavioural pattern in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. 

The outcome of counselling can mean:

  • Less stress/anxiety
  • Improved confidence within yourself and your abilities
  • Improved relationships
  • Regain emotional balance
  • Able to think clearly and make better choices

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