© CFA. 1994-2012. All rights reserved. Updated August 23, 2012
Copyright Center for Awareness, Inc.

Chapter 7: Patterns of Behavior

All people exhibit (largely unconscious) patterns of behavior. These are seemingly automatic responses and reactions we have to the different situations and people in our lives.

Our predominant patterns are from past lives. Genetic imprints, ancestral connections, and family traditions all set a very strong precedent for us. Exactly how we respond to these potentials is set very early in life, sometimes at conception. Birth is a strong imprint for people. All these experiences are the source of most of our behavior- what we do, and how we feel about what we do. Certainly we are able to change patterns; however, this is usually a slow process for a number of reasons.

Conception, birth, and early life are times when we are the least ego-developed and the least able to separate beliefs based on fear from those based on love. For instance, most people most people experience their birth as a struggle; from that, most come to believe life itself is a struggle. This is such a deep pattern that many never become aware of it. Few people know that it was a choice, which can be changed, and few understand what it takes to let go of this particular fear.

Different emotional healing techniques are available that allow us to get in touch with these deepest levels inside. This is extremely valuable because our deepest, most visceral positive or negative decisions seem to be made at this beginning point in life.

Similarly, early life around our parents reaffirms these early decisions that life is a struggle. No matter how emotionally unhealthy or dysfunctional our family was, this is usually the basis for how we act throughout our lives.

Changing The Patterns

Because patterns are our habits and unconscious behaviors, they change more slowly than our understanding of these patterns. We all seem to understand the goal of personal growth and enlightenment, and it would be fair to say few of us attain all that is possible.

New ideas about life being easier and healthier take some time to integrate in the body to the level of automatic behavior. When a person has a lifetime of difficult relationships, simply wanting better relations usually does little to override the deeper belief that being with people is difficult.

There are two parts to the process of consciously-chosen change: understanding the principles involved, and adopting those new ideas as a way of living.

The Five Biggies

It is said our conscious and unconscious ways of acting come from the five major categories of events in our lives. These are called the Five Biggies by Leonard Orr:

1: Conception and Birth,

2: Parental Disapproval Syndrome (Early life),

3: Other Specific Traumas,

4: Unconscious Death Urge, and

5: Past Lives.

Conception and Birth

Many people who work with the Rebirthing technique believe that the 5 Biggies are the most important physical experiences we have in our lifetime. It is extremely useful to find out details of our conception and birth. Were we wanted? What kind of birth did we have?

One client's father left shortly after she was conceived, and she was put up for adoption. Since then, her life has been a continuous series of relationships that start out feeling good, then end when the other person finally leaves her. When they don't leave, she starts feeling something is wrong until she ends the relationship by leaving the other person. The pattern is that it is impossible for people who love each other to stay together. Intellectually, the course of these relationships makes no sense. On an experiential level, this was her conception truth, and unconsciously she has continued to act this way.

Another client, who was loved and wanted, got stuck and required a forceps birth. Forceps are metal tongs used to grab the baby's head and "help" in navigating the birth canal. Sometimes, this can be painful to the baby, such as when the tongs grasp the eyes, ears, nose, etc., causing bruising or worse.

This has left him with several patterns. Because there was so much love and pain at birth, his experiences have been that if he loves someone, it has to hurt, too, and the more love there is, the more painful it has to be. Another decision he made at birth was that to be supported or helped by anyone was painful- because the doctor used forceps to help him at birth. Consequently, he always felt a strong need to be very independent, even when it was obvious he could use some assistance. When help was offered, it appeared to be an invasion, rather than support. Consequently, he would reject it or feel resentful, even when it was apparent he could use it.

A third pattern he has experienced is being rescued. Just before completion of a project he experiences a period of confusion and uncertainty, feeling like he needs help to finish. This is a result of his mother being under anesthesia. When she was knocked out, she stopped her side of the birth process, and he had to be helped out. Even though he is suspicious of assistance, he often feels he needs it to finish undertakings.

The wide variety of factors involved in a person's birth and conception make it impossible to predict someone's behavior, though there are some valuable and accurate generalizations that can be made. There may be several of the conditions listed in this table present at a person's birth. All these influences leave imprints and do not cancel each other, even when the influences conflict (such as a person who was held back and then had a cesarean birth).

The following chart details a variety of possible conditions around birth and conception, common resultant beliefs and experiences, and healing thoughts (or affirmations- see Chapter 9) to replace the old negative beliefs.

Birth Types, Resultant Beliefs, & Healing Thoughts

Conception or Birth Condition

Resultant Belief and Life Experience

Affirmations and Healing Thoughts


Loss of security; feeling abandoned feeling ordinary, nothing special

I am unique, just like everyone else. It is safe to be different.


Being in the wrong places at the wrong times; prone to accidents; social awkwardness or shyness; unwanted; illegitimate- the need to defend or justify

I am always at the right place at the right time, successfully engaged in the right activity.


Disconnected feeling; absentmindedness; selective memory; abuse of mood-altering drugs; vagueness and difficulty in making decisions; short attention span or focus; apathy

It is safe for me to be in my body at all times. It is safe to be and feel completely alive.


Do things backwards; fight support; do things wrong,

The world is safe. I do things easily, and I do things right for me.

Cesarean Section

Difficulty with completions; looking for rescue,

I make decisions easily and move forward effortlessly.

Cord Around Neck

Blocks in speaking, throat problems; cut off from feelings

I can breathe fully and easily. People support me in speaking my truth.

Fast Birth

Feeling rushed, or rushing others; hyperactive

There is plenty of time for me. I have unlimited time in all I do.


Feeling forced to participate in life; difficult to receive support without fear of being trapped or hurt; headstrong, independent attitudes; compulsive busy-ness

Pleasure leads to pleasure. It is safe and easy for me to receive love, money and support from others.

Held Back

Difficulty with initiating or finishing projects; obstacles to life

I move forward with ease & grace.


Rebelliousness; compulsion about or aversion to schedules; headstrong behavior; trapped feelings

It is safe and easy to make my own choices.

Late Birth

Timing problems; often late or early for appointments; struggle in completing projects (long, drawn-out)

It is safe for me to be on time. Life flows effortlessly and easily for me.

Multiple Birth

Competition for food, love, or attention; oversensitivity to others; difficult to set and sustain boundaries

I always get what I want when I want it. I have all the space I want. I am safe even when others disagree with me.


Feeling unprotected, vulnerable; feeling out of synch with others

I am in alignment with Divine Order. I am strong enough.

Previous Births, Abortions or Miscarriages

Life is dangerous; feeling unwanted or like an outsider; anger from having to fight for life

I experience safety and support in the presence of others. Earth is safe enough for me.

Transverse Lie

Often at odds with close people; resent being manipulated

My way works. It is easy to make my own choices.

Wrong Sex

Feeling not good enough; life is never enough

I am plenty, I have plenty, I do plenty. I am good enough as a (wo)man.

Early Life Experiences

In the same way we take on the beliefs and attitudes from our conception and birth, we unquestioningly assume our early experiences are the blueprint for our lives. These attitudes are internalized most strongly in the first five or six years.

Our parents, or whoever plays these roles, are the first male and female with whom we fall in love, and the particular qualities of these relationships are the patterns we repeat throughout our lives. It does not matter how healthy these patterns are; they are repeated until we start dealing with them consciously and addressing the sources of the unhealthy parts.

One very prevalent pattern has to do with openness. Most children are very open and accepting from birth. Many parents do not know how to deal with unconditional love, and they either have to process their own self-esteem issues or suppress the child's love. What frequently happens is that, rather than handle their own difficulties with love, the parents convey to the child that it's not okay to be totally open and that the child is doing something wrong. So he gets his parents' approval only when he acts in a way that keeps Mom or Dad happy, which is not how he really feels at the moment.

It's obvious that growing up with this belief presents problems later when we start to enter meaningful relationships with others. Trying to act out what we experienced as a child is very confusing, because we believe we will somehow be reprimanded or abandoned if we are open and loving. Our natural state is openness, and there is a tension created until we begin to unearth the old attitude(s) that lead us to believe life is not safe, or that punishment awaits us if we express our true feelings.

Other Specific Negatives

Later in life there are situations we experience that can also have major impact on us. It's common to be criticized by a teacher and develop significant self-doubt about something that may not be true. Culturally, females are sometimes told they don't know how to think or act rationally. Whether or not this is true makes no difference. If a woman believes it, it's true for her.

The death of a parent before we leave home is also a difficult experience. Other events with a major impact are divorce and/or remarriage, and the birth of other siblings. These events are not necessarily bad, but they can often have challenging aspects to them, especially if no one is around to help us adjust to the new circumstances.

Death Urge

This is subtler because we often hide it completely. The source of the death urge comes from choosing to cut ourselves off from the unlimited love of God. Death urge is belief in all those ideas, behaviors, and beliefs that are limiting to our lives, including a belief in the inevitability of death. Whether or not we are aware of this inner tension, it shows up in many kinds of compulsive, destructive behaviors.

Any behavior that leads to anything except everlasting life and full experience of God's unlimited love is a result of the unconscious death urge. On reflection, we can see many areas of our lives where belief in dying, or belief in limited love are a major part of the situation.

Most people die because they have unconsciously given up. The physical circumstances might be a heart attack, or kidney failure, or a car accident, but the conscious or unconscious belief that they must die is the only reason people stop living. Suppression of and resistance to feelings is, in effect, slow motion suicide. We force the body to stop accepting love and nurturing, which are as important to health as food.

When we have no reason to continue living, most people eventually die. Consider the number of times men retire from work, then die within a few years or even a few months. Frequently, the man has identified his reason for living as doing his job, and when he stops doing his job, there is no reason to be here. This seems more prevalent the longer a man has held the same job or career.

Past Lives

We are always learning how to make the best use of our abilities. Those talents are a result of accumulated past lives. The challenges and unfinished lessons from those lives also carry over into the present life. Generally we can determine past experiences by how we are living now. Any unfinished business from other lives is still a part of our present challenges and lessons.

Past-life regressions can be valuable for getting clarity about some of the specifics. On reflection, it seems that past-life experiences, our deepest patterns, talents, and challenges are brought with us into this life and are reinforced by conception, birth, and later life events.

Our friend Iyanla called one day in tears sobbing because she had "killed her mother". Iyanla is a bestselling author, internationally known inspirational teacher who has appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show as a spiritual expert most every month for a year. She is read by thousands every day and is one of the clearest and most powerful people we know.

Yet, here she was thrown back in time hearing the voices of her grandmother, father, and assorted others talking about her mother's death. Since she was only a baby when her mother died of cancer, she had no clue what had really happened until she was an adult.

By then, her inner child's mind had connected her mother's cancer with her conception, womb time, and birth. Now at a pinnacle of success in her life, she was overcome with this old guilt and thought. The adult circumstances of having to fire a much-beloved friend as her manager had thrown her back into these birth and early childhood memories. She felt so guilty about letting her friend go and feared it would ruin her friend's life, just like her inner child believed she had "ruined" her mother's very existence.

We breathed together and talked about her innocence. Together we explored the soul agreement she and her mother had made when she was born. She came in knowing her mother would be leaving the earthly plane shortly after her birth.

Iyanla understood she had agreed to this circumstance on the soul level. Since our contract with our parents is usually a soul or spiritual experience, we are often unconscious or forget we made these choices at conception up to the birth itself.

We inhaled innocence and exhaled guilt. Since guilt demands punsshment, we explored the ways she had sabotaged her life, as a result of believing she had killed her mother. She quickly understood there was nothing for her to feel guilty about. She had honored her mother's choice to die and her own choice to grow up without her mother's physical presence.

She also knew her mother had been with her all along in dreams and visions as a beautiful lady dressed in white. She had always appeared to Iyanla to guide her in times of real crisis. Now she deeply felt that her mother knew Iyanla had kept her agreement. She would not have appeared to Iyanla if she'd been bad, guilty, or somehow caused her mother's death.

Iyanla was innocent, and the family's old blaming, ignorant words to her as a child were a lie she no longer needed to believe on any level. After that she was clear in her decision to let go of her friend as manager. She also knew she would honor their friendship and love forever. The love didn't die; just the form of their relationship. When she did talk to her friend, the friend agreed and returned the love. They have both moved on with their lives. (See Vanzant, I. Yesterday, I Cried New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1999)

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