Every Moment is a Choice: A Journey Through the Hoffman Process

Holly Chen
July 18, 2023

A few weeks back, I embarked on a unique journey of self-discovery called the Hoffman Process. As an executive coach passionate about personal development, I found Hoffman to be truly distinctive. I had many takeaways, and the biggest one for me is to understand and overcome our childhood patterns influenced by our parents and those who played parental roles. Through the process of Expression, Compassion and Forgiveness, we can find a new way of being - making our own conscious choice, at every moment.

Childhood Shadows: Copy, Rebel, React

Negative Patterns is a key concept in the Hoffman Process. Negative Love Patterns are survival strategies we learned in our early years—mostly before we turned 13—to secure love and support from our caregivers. They usually manifest in three ways:

  1. Imitation - We mimic our parents. If a parent was an expert at pleasing others, we might adopt a similar approach.
  2. Rebellion - We strive to be different from our parents. If a parent sought approval from others, we might consciously steer away from this pattern.
  3. Reaction - Our behavior extends beyond mere copying or rebelling. Seeing a people-pleasing parent might lead us to believe our self-worth is tied to external validation. So we may develop strong achievement-oriented patterns and seek status or wealth to substantiate our self-value.

Tracing Behavioral Patterns: From Past to Present

Our past leaves an indelible mark on our present behavior. Many of our behavioral patterns also come from observing the interaction between our parental figures. For instance, my grandmother constantly complained about life, while my grandfather sought refuge in his solitude to avoid her grievances.

In response to their behavioral patterns, I developed several of my own:

  • Copy - I learned to be self-judging and distant, often escaping discomfort.
  • Rebel - I attempted to remain positive, developing a strong dislike for negativity.
  • React - To avoid complaints, I became ambitious and driven to achieve.

Unearthing the Roots: : From Present to Past

Let's flip the script a bit. Ever notice a pattern in yourself and wonder, "Where on earth did that come from?" Well, sometimes, I can get into a pattern of self-righteousness: feeling the need to be right and often withdrawing when my opinions are dismissed. Looking back, I realize this negative behavior may have its roots in my grandmother's complaints and my grandfather's avoidance behavior.

While these observations aren't necessarily groundbreaking, the Hoffman Process provided an opportunity to systematically reflect on these influences.

'Left Road, Right Road': Every moment is a choice

The 'Left Road' is like the highway to hell - all our bad choices, unhealthy patterns, and a life we really don't want. The 'Right Road', on the other hand, is the stairway to heaven - good choices, our best selves, the life we dream of. And guess what lies smack in the middle? You got it, the power to choose.

I used to think, "Poor me. I'm stuck with these patterns and they're going to muck up my life forever." Turns out, I was only halfway right.

Sure, the patterns might keep popping up. But here's the game-changer: I can choose whether to let them muck up my life or not.

It all boils down to one thing: CHOICE.

Like this time I planned to write this blog post over the July 4th weekend, but ended up lost in a novel instead. Typically, I'd get into a guilt spiral: beat myself up about it, then escape into snacks and TV, only to repeat the cycle of self-reproach. But this time, I took a different road. I owned up to my novel binge, then consciously chose my next step - to keep reading or put down the phone. No guilt trip, no energy drain, just a new choice.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a get-out-of-jail-free card to avoid hard work. It's more about showing some kindness to yourself, saving your energy for making the right choice in the next moment.

Implications for Underrepresented Groups

As part of an underrepresented group - people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ+, we've often been under pressure to conform, to blend in, or even to outperform just to be seen as equals.  

The inner critic can be more vocal, the drive to prove oneself more intense, the sense of victimhood more bitter, and the feeling of not-good-enough more deeply entrenched.

We may have grown up in a culture that discourages the exploration of emotional needs and childhood patterns. For some, such introspection could be viewed as disrespectful to parents, thus deterring further investigation into the roots of behavioral patterns.

There are often generational trauma and cultural influences so ingrained and subtle that extend way beyond immediate parental impact.

Recognizing parental influence is just one facet of this complex puzzle, but it's a fundamental piece that aids in understanding ourselves and breaking free from ingrained molds.

Connecting the Dots with Foundational Psychology

It's intriguing how well the Hoffman Process dovetails with the principles of Alfred Adler's Individual Psychology. Adler postulates that children adopt certain behaviors to garner attention from their parents. However, he also empowers the individual with the ability to reinterpret the past and consciously choose their future path. This theory resonates deeply with the foundational premise of the self-exploration process in Hoffman.

Moreover, Carol Dweck's concept of a 'Growth Mindset' also complements this perspective beautifully. It reinforces the idea that our innate abilities are simply a starting point and that most abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work, and, most importantly, the belief that improvement is possible. All these theories blend seamlessly into the narrative of breaking free from old patterns and consciously forging a new path.


In Summary

By understanding and applying concepts such as Negative Love Patterns, 'Left Road, Right Road', and looking into how our original pain from childhood impact our adult lives, we can start to untangle our own intricate belief systems and personal relationships. This process is about making conscious choices, moment by moment, that affirm our worth, honor our energy, and align with our authentic selves.

There are many other aspects of the Hoffman process not covered in this one article. I recommend you check out the Hoffman Institute and the great work by Bob Hoffman and many of their teachers.

So, next time you're about to beat yourself up for dropping the ball, pause, take a deep breath, and remember, "At this moment, I choose…."

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