Pattern Stage User's Guide

This stage takes you through a step sequence to help you understand your pattern, how it operates, which part of you enacts this pattern, and the underlying psychological dynamics behind it. You also get a customized report on your version of this pattern that summarizes all the material you have entered.

The Description Page explains the pattern, how people typically feel and behave when it is activated, and its impact on their functioning and relationships. For example, the first sentences of the People-Pleasing description are as follows: “If you have a People-Pleasing Pattern, you have a tendency to go out of your way to please people. You often try to be who other people want you to be, to agree with them, to fit in. You try to make yourself think, feel, and want the same things as others even if this doesn't reflect your true feelings.”

This page also includes the False Belief for the pattern. Each pattern has a False Belief, which is a brief summary of what someone believes when this pattern is activated. For example, the False Belief for the People-Pleasing Pattern is: “It is dangerous to assert myself. I must please others for them to like me and connect with me. My needs don’t count compared to other people’s.”

The Story Page contains a link to a story of one person’s pattern. STJ users often identify with the person in the story. However, even if you don’t identify with the story, you might still have the pattern. This story is continued later in Stage 3, when you learn how the protagonist resolved their pattern and developed the corresponding healthy capacity.

The Similar Patterns Page mentions several other patterns that are similar to the one you are exploring, in case you decide that one of these patterns is more important for you to work on. For example, the Conflict-Avoiding Pattern is similar to the People-Pleasing Pattern. You can choose to switch to exploring one of those other patterns or mark it for later exploration.

The Behaviors Page deals with your behavior and feelings when this pattern is activated. There is a checklist of various possibilities for how you act and feel. For example, for the People-Pleasing Pattern, one of the behaviors is: “It is hard for me to disagree with my partner or friends.” You can also add other behaviors that come to mind. All checklists can be customized; you can always add your own entries after the listed choices.

The Name Page begins to look at the part of you that enacts this pattern. Working with parts (subpersonalities) comes from IFS Therapy, though many other therapy systems also deal with parts.7 Seeing things in terms of parts is a way of helping an aspect of the psyche come alive for you and become easier to work with. (The parts that enact the patterns are called protectors in IFS because they defend against feeling your underlying pain.)

If you know a form of therapy that doesn’t work with parts, you can just think of parts as the personification of psychological issues or structures. If you can see your thoughts and feelings as parts, it will be especially helpful in the guided meditations.

On this page, you can choose a name for your part. For example, someone might call his People-Pleasing Part “the Yes Man.”

On the Image Page, you can choose an image of what your part looks like. You can choose from a series of images or upload your own (perhaps after finding it on Google Images), or you can type in a description of the image you have in your mind.

The Thoughts Page lists various thoughts associated with this pattern, which are the statements that this part might make. For example, a People-Pleasing Part might think, “Even if I feel differently from my partner or friend, it isn’t worth disagreeing.”

Triggers Page. A pattern can be triggered all the time or only under certain circumstances. For example, a person might have their People-Pleasing Pattern activated when someone seems upset with them or when they are around judgmental people. The Triggers Page helps you explore when your pattern tends to be triggered, to give you a better idea of how strong and pervasive it is.

The Motivation Page lists common motivations behind this pattern, such as fears, desires, or inner conflicts. For example, one motivation for People-Pleasing is: “I am afraid of being rejected if I don’t please people or if I assert myself.” These motivations constitute the underlying psychological dynamics behind the pattern. You are likely to have more than one of these motivations. Even if the motivations aren’t completely conscious, you will likely be able to intuit which of the options that are listed seem right for you. You check off as many as apply.

The motivations that you check off on this page determine your options in Stages 2 and 4. So if you get to Stage 2 or 4 and determine that the existing options don’t seem right, you may need to go back to this page and check off more motivations.

The Report Page contains a customized report on your pattern, which is a compilation of all the information you have entered about it. You can make changes or add items to the checklists as you read through the report. The report is also accessible from your Dashboard (see Chapter 8).

Reports can be printed out or accessed from a computer, tablet, or smartphone. In the lower left corner of each page are two icons. The pdf icon creates an exact pdf of that page. The printer icon prints a report in a more readable form without the left and right columns.

Practice Page. At the end of each stage, it is a good idea to take a break, get up from your computer, move around and stretch, or do whatever helps you relax. You might want to jot down some sentences or a poem, make a drawing, or journal more fully about your experience. You may even want to end the session at this point and start on the next stage at a different time.