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Breaking the Pattern

Charles Platkin - Author

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ISBN 9781440626821 | 304 pages | 28 Dec 2004 | Plume | 8.26 x 5.23in | 18 - AND UP
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Ever get the sense that you’re reliving the same events, arguments, and frustrations again and again? Does your relationship, job, or diet always begin full of hope, but, somehow, fail to work out in the end?

In Breaking the Pattern, Charles Stuart Platkin synthesizes years of research in psychology, motivation, success, and achievement into what he calls “The 5 Principles You Need to Remodel Your Life,” helping readers to take action in those areas where they feel stuck or doomed to repeat negative past experiences. Through a series of self-reflective exercises, Platkin encourages readers to examine their successes and failures, identifying, analyzing, and finally breaking the very patterns that have kept them from realizing their dreams. By incorporating inspirational quotes and stories throughout the book, Platkin creates a positive, healing environment in which even the most self-doubting reader can gain the support and motivation necessary to begin to change his or her life for the better.

My wife and I were out biking one Saturday afternoon along the streets of Manhattan with cars weaving in and around us. Since it was quite dangerous, I was a bit worried about my wife. She’s not from New York and is a lot more trusting of local drivers in heavy traffic areas. As we were going through a green light, I thought I lost her. Momentarily caught off guard, I stopped short in the middle of the street and was thrown over the handlebars of my bike. A crowd gathered, and someone offered to call an ambulance. I was only slightly injured, but I was embarrassed, then angry.


Who could I blame?

Well, it really was my wife’s fault—wasn’t it? I mean, if I hadn’t been concerned about her welfare, and if she had kept up with me, then I wouldn’t have stopped short! Wow! Why not blame her?

While it’s clear that this minor accident was nobody’s fault but my own, it’s a classic example of how easy it is to avoid taking responsibility. I’m the only one responsible for my actions. I made a choice to be concerned for my wife’s well-being and my being pitched over the handlebars had nothing to do with her.

Taking responsibility

I know it sounds puzzling and familiar at the same time, yet it’s a concept that’s frequently forgotten or abused during the course of our lives. What the heck does it mean? It’s simply this: Control over your life doesn’t arise from dodging and avoiding difficulties, but instead from coping with the issues (minor and major) that come your way or that you create. Personal honesty, conflict, and struggle constantly force you to make decisions concerning who you are as a person, and these choices are powerful growing tools. The best way to prepare for them is to stay aware of your actions. Only then can you become more responsible—and the payoff is a more effective life. Responsibility is choice, free choice. It means being able to determine your destiny.

This Principle promises to change your notion of what it is to take responsibility for yourself. It will help you recognize and identify responsibility-avoiding behaviors and patterns in both your professional and personal life.


Defining Responsibility

Responsibility has gotten a bad rap. Too many of us associate it with punishment and blame, both negatives. Or you may associate responsibility with dreary lectures detailing your duties and see it solely as a burden. There is a moral dimension to responsibility, but that is only part of it. Think about the word. It contains the word "respond" and the word "ability." Responsibility is, therefore, the ability to respond. An event occurs, a relationship or business fails. You suffer a loss or a setback. How do you respond? Can you get over it? Can you get past it? Can you keep heart and soul together and remain compassionate? To respond ably, or to respond responsibly, you figure out what went wrong, and determine how you can fix it, and even incorporate the setback into a well-thought out plan of action.

You may not be fully responsible for every event in your life. Accidents do happen, both lucky and unlucky ones. But you are solely responsible for how you respond to those events, and how you allow those events to shape you. Many of your own patterns, which you are in control of, not luck or chance, bring you opportunity, success, and failure.

There are very specific ways you think of yourself and how you act and react, and for the purpose of clarification I’ve organized them into eight general "types" of people. Each "type" has its peculiar syntax, behavior, and stock phrases. By examining these types and how they experience themselves, you can probably find a description (in part or in whole) of where you fit in. The types are:

  • The Blamer
  • The Higher Authority
  • The Victim
  • The Excuse Maker
  • The Avoider
  • The Counter Puncher
  • The Ingratiator
  • The Martyr
A road map for anyone who’s failed at a New Year’s resolution, or any goal for personal change. (San Jose Mercury News)

This is a useful yet fun book that could provide just the push we all need to achieve real, lasting change. (Shape magazine)


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