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10 Steps To Change Destructive Patterns


I once had a thought pattern that was highly negative toward selling. It didn’t matter whether it was my investment services or something from home I no longer needed. I felt like I was a pushy car salesman trying to convince people to give me money for stuff they didn’t need. My problem wasn’t with the things I was selling, it was with the way I thought about selling. I felt bothersome and extremely uncomfortable asking for money. This thought pattern severely limited my earning potential and the growth of my companies.


Identifying destructive patterns is oftentimes incredibly difficult because we’ve lived them for so long that we just think that’s who we are and don’t recognize them as something we can readily change. Additionally, we conform to the pattern by making statements to ourselves such as, “I’m not good at …,” or, “I’m the type of person who …” We do this because it feels safe to do things we’ve always done — the familiar. We feel we have built a sanctuary where we won’t be harmed by trying that new thing.


We instantly limit our abilities when we use phrases that say we are or are not one thing or another. When we label ourselves, we remove the possibility that we may be great at that thing that is just outside the prison we built for ourselves. We must understand that

greatness lies just on the other side of our biggest fear.

One of the best ways to identify patterns is to listen to people who know us best. When those people fuss at us or try to encourage us to do something differently, they’ve identified a destructive pattern in us and love us enough to call us out on it. Get in a habit of listening to what people say about you and how they react to the things you say and do. It will tell you volumes about yourself.


Athena Staik, Ph.D., in her study “Neuroscience of Changing Toxic Thinking Patterns,” found you can change your thoughts and the standards or beliefs that form your thoughts. Moreover, she says, “This principal applies in every aspect of your life.” We all have destructive patterns, so take a few minutes with the following questions designed to help identify your destructive patterns.


- Do you overgeneralize?

- Is your thinking polarized?

- Do you label everything good or bad?

- Do you avoid responsibility and jump to conclusions?

- Do you regularly blame others or events for what happens in your life?

- How often do you complain?

- Do you think you will fail before you start something new?

- Do you over- or under eat?

- Are you often vengeful?

- Are you a loner?

- Do you use the excuse of introversion as a means to avoid social interaction?

- Do you refuse to be helped?

- Do you unnecessarily self-sacrifice for the benefit of others?


If you answered yes to any of these — well, then, congratulations! You’re human. However, each of these, among others, can be detrimental to your success in anything you desire to achieve. I have lived nearly all of these at one time, and several had become destructive patterns in my life. Several can be identified in the stories I tell. These are just a sample of questions that may apply to you. Think of others. Do whatever you can to identify the patterns that don’t serve your life. When you find them, note somewhere handy one or more patterns you want to change so that you will have a better chance of catching it the next time it occurs.


In addition to putting the pattern in your alerts, tell everyone. Tell everyone about your desire to change this pattern and ask them to call you out on it. Ask them to ridicule you, make fun of you, get serious with you. These loving people will be your greatest resource in achieving success over your unwanted habits and patterns. Along with their help, there is also a strategy you must do on your own.


Once I discovered how to change my patterns, I immediately thought about my pattern of hesitation when it came to selling. I thought about how unconfident I felt when I was speaking to people about my services. I then said,

I offer a service people need and desire. I am doing them a disservice if I don’t get it to them.

Basically, what I was telling myself was that I was not loving my customers and clients if I didn’t get them the thing I created specifically for them.


The thing about this phrase is that it stopped my pattern of negativity toward selling. But most importantly, it was true. I’ve never sold a product or service that wasn’t highly beneficial to my target customer or client. My investment services are second to none and always outperformed my competition. I once sold gas and diesel fuel, which of course everyone needs, but my prices were always better. I created a pay-for-performance marketing and advertising app that businesses desire to increase word-of-mouth sales. However, even as recently as with Nyoobe, which has just entered the market as of this writing, I still struggle with selling. Patterns, especially ones we’ve had for many years, can be incredibly hard (but not impossible) to overcome. Like anything difficult to do, with time and practice they get easier.


Changing unwanted patterns is crucial before beginning anything important. Negative and unhealthy patterns that relate to your project or goal can severely impair your success. When you recognize an unwanted pattern, use the following ten-step process to eliminate the pattern — for good!


Ten Steps to Change Destructive Patterns

  1. Abruptly do something that stops the pattern.

  2. Intensely focus on a feeling that associates pain with continuing the pattern.

  3. Intensely focus on a feeling that associates pleasure with whatever you replace the pattern with.

  4. List ten reasons why you must change the pattern.

  5. Say these reasons out loud.

  6. List actions for how you can change the pattern.

  7. Say these actions out loud.

  8. List five ways you can continue to disrupt the pattern.

  9. Associate pleasure from the change and visualize the current and future gains from continuing without the pattern.

  10. Note the reasons and interruptions.


Ways you can disrupt the pattern can be as simple as saying a funny word. The funny-word disruption also works in arguments with anyone. It’s imperative you don’t skip #5 and #7. There is intense power in spoken words, especially those you speak to yourself. Note the reasons and interruptions in a place you can periodically review, like a mobile calendar with alerts so you’ll never regress.


Regarding Nyoobe, I hesitated to introduce it to businesses. It wasn’t just because of my aversion to selling. It was a new concept, and the possibility of rejection was high. Additionally, we built into the app a feature that allows any member to introduce businesses to Nyoobe and we will pay them for every transaction regardless of who made the referral. Essentially, we made all members Nyoobe salespeople. So, one of my limiting excuses was that when I reached out to businesses about joining, I felt like I was competing with my members, which to some respect is true. However, I overcame that by doing the pattern-changing technique.


I first said the phrase about how valuable my product is. Saying the phrase wasn’t completely necessary because I already understood the value of the app to businesses. It’s part of the process, so I did it anyway and felt a rise of confidence afterward — just like every other time I performed this exercise. I then listed the reasons I must change the pattern.


  1. Businesses need this app.

  2. Businesses need a pay-for-performance marketing option.

  3. Social media marketing effectiveness is declining.

  4. Traditional advertising is expensive and often requires steep, upfront costs.

  5. Nyoobe needs businesses to be successful.

  6. Nyoobe members need high-quality businesses to refer.

  7. More businesses bring more members.

  8. My family needs Nyoobe to be financially successful.

  9. Nyoobe’s success contributes to the attainment of my life goals.

  10. Nyoobe can help billions of people earn more money to meet expenses and reach their financial goals.

I then listed reasons why I can change the pattern.


  1. I can pick up the phone and call a business.

  2. I can walk into a business and introduce myself.

  3. I can use emails, texts, ads targeting businesses to sign up with Nyoobe.

  4. I can speak confidently about its features and benefits.

  5. I can give away the businesses I bring to the app to Nyoobe members so that I’m not competing with them.

I then thought of ways to continue to interrupt the pattern, which can be nearly anything. But be careful to not fall into the procrastination trap. Any of these interruptions should last only a brief moment.


  1. Say the phrase I saved in my phone.

  2. Say “Nope. That’s not true,” when thoughts of incompetent sales skills crossed my mind.

  3. Do a quick burst exercise, such as push ups or jump squats.

  4. Go outside.

  5. Meditate on how businesses need my service.

  6. Use a centering breathing technique.

  7. Call my friend — the one who can sell sand to an ant.

  8. Watch a clip from The Wolf of Wall Street.

  9. Read highlights from a sales-oriented personal development book.

  10. Watch or listen to online motivational videos.

The key to this process after identifying the pattern is to first disrupt the pattern. Without the disruption, you will most likely continue to struggle. Understand that recognizing that the pattern exists may be the most difficult part, especially if it often occurs when you’re emotionally charged. Additionally, thinking of reasons to change can be tough. Do it anyway. It’s only you who will see them, so write down all reasons to change you can think of regardless of how silly or self-serving they may seem.


If you’re struggling with the mental aspects of selling (selling your ideas to your boss; selling more than your quota every month on your sales job; selling your skills to a headhunter so that you get a great new job; selling your old car for top dollar to a private individual over the web — we sell a lot!), then use this strategy to overcome your deficiencies.


I’m in several entrepreneur-focused groups and see many posts of people struggling with this pattern. It’s the reason I used this example over something else. We’re all selling something, and most of us struggle with it. It’s naturally uncomfortable to attempt to get people to do things. Once you get your mind wrapped around how to properly think about it, then conveying your message to anyone about anything will be much simpler and you’ll experience more success in your efforts.


I discuss in greater detail how to craft your message in the book Achieve.



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