We recently did a radio show on Repetitive Patterns, discussing why we have them, what we can learn from them, and what to do to stop repeating them. There are some that are quite obvious- at least to those who are observing- like someone repeatedly falling for someone who is unavailable or staying in an abusive relationship. There are less obvious repetitive patterns that we might not put into this category at first glance such as procrastination, disorganization, or the inability to complete projects.
Examples of Repetitive Patterns
Repetitive patterns in our lives are the ones that we just can’t seem to shake and perhaps don’t understand why they keep happening to us- if we recognize them at all. Things like:
- Addictions, recoveries, and relapses
- Destructive, attention seeking behavior or other drama
- Any unwanted situation that repeats itself
- Attracting the same type of people in your life
- Continually going through the same things in relationships- getting involved with someone who is unavailable, an abusive relationship, a neglectful one; marrying the same type of individual several times…
- Constant “issues” with friends, bosses, family members
- Emotional eating, or gaining weight, dieting, then gaining it back
- Procrastination, disorganization, inability to complete projects
- People continually taking advantage of you or taking you for granted
- Putting your needs on back burner while only focusing on pleasing others
- Fear of something (can be a crippling fear of change, abandonment, rejection, success, illness, etc.…) (focusing intensely on these things can actually bring them into your life. What we focus our time, energy, and attention on, we get more of.)
- Destructive, attention seeking behavior (belief that if there wasn’t something in their life that needed help or fixing, everyone would leave them.)
- Repetitive financial issues (responsibility issues; stewardship issues, as well as sabotage issues-
- Fear of success; who am I to be…) Again, more sabotage issues
We are drawn to repetitive patterns because we have a history with them. We know our part and it feels familiar to us. It is our known rut. The attraction is so strong that makes it easy to pass up or overlook healthier alternatives. Our subconscious can get stuck trying to re-create the original circumstances of those hurts in hopes that this time things will “turn out differently.”
Why do we repeat these unhealthy patterns?
- Some of these patterns of behavior, called domestications, are learned in our family of origin, and we carry them throughout our life until we learn and finally understand that they do not serve us well.
- If we grew up with a pattern in our family of origin (especially abuse or neglect), we may feel that is “normal” or familiar, and just keep perpetuating it. In other words, we just don’t know any better. We do better when we know better.
- Another reason is that we feel our patterns are “safe” and give us an “identity.”
- When you have a particular pattern that replicates, such as an illness, trauma or depression, you feel like you have something in common with others who may be experiencing similar situations.
- Commiserating is a form of bonding. An example is someone who constantly talks about their disease and how it makes them feel, wallowing and not seeking help, thus gathering a sympathetic audience wherever they go.
- Our patterns are inherently coded in our DNA. Every experience, trauma, emotion, feeling, memory and fear is stored within your body’s DNA at the cellular level and is called cellular memory. It replicates automatically, continuing the pattern and behavior.
- In the mind, everything is perceived to be happening in the present moment. If we think about negative experiences and rehash them over and over, our body goes through that experience again and again, sending out harmful chemicals to our bodies again and again. Most people are unaware that they have these underlying trains of thought that repeatedly harm their life.
One of the most intriguing things about repetitive patterns is that most of the time the one experiencing them is totally clueless that they are enmeshed in one. It has to get very challenging for them to be able to see what is going on and even then, it may take some time before they build up the insight and courage to change their pattern.
Repetitive patterns are crucial to the development and expansion of the Soul. They are here to teach us the deeper soul lessons we have come to earth to learn. Within each of these repetitive patterns is the chance to master the lesson in profound ways- life changing ways that will affect the course of your life and your future.
The first step in this process is a tool that is vital to all aspects of self and health- mindfulness. We know that mindfulness processes help decrease stress, and that leads to increased health. If we can change this mindfulness just a little, we can begin to really focus on the moment to moment experiences we are having, and make our choices from a more conscious awareness, rather than out of habit, or fear.
How to Break Repetitive Patterns
So, in a nut shell, we can break these repetitive patterns by taking these steps:
- Be fully conscious in the moment. Mindfulnessteaches you to focus on the present, not the past or the future. In this moment, there is only NOW. By practicing mindfulness, you become more aware of the choices you are making from moment to moment and avoid going on “autopilot” where you might slip into old grooves. Mindfulness encourages more conscious choices that resonate with who you truly are and how you want to live your life.
- Imagine yourself living your best life. Paint a vivid mental picture of who you want to be. Words are important, so remember to make this a positive affirmation. For example, say, “I am healthy and energetic” rather than “I don’t want to feel tired and lazy anymore.”
- Listen to people you trust. If your spouse, parent or a trusted friend mentions that you are traveling down a familiar (rocky) path, I invite you to stop the urge to immediately get defensive and discount what they’re saying. Take their comment as a reminder to slow down and consider the choices you’re making.
- Develop your intuition and pay attention to it!We all have that still small voice within us. Your own wise inner knowing will send you signals when you’re about to repeat a destructive pattern. Nurture that voice inside of you so that you don’t ignore red flags alerting you to “dangerous choices ahead.”
Nothing shows up in your life without a reason.
Lesson cycles can last decades. Your goal should always be to get the lesson and get out as quickly as possible. If this doesn’t happen, some repetitive patterns can actually lead to PTSD, which will lead to even more issues.
Once you get the lesson, and have mastered it, the lesson no longer needs to be there stops beating you up. Life gets better. Remember that the longer it takes for you to grasp these lessons, the harder they get.
You’re not a victim of what’s happening to you. If it’s happening to you—and especially if it’s happening repeatedly—you need to address it and work through it, not repeat it.
This is worth repeating:
Remember that it’s not happening TO you, it’s happening FOR you to help you master the lessons and issues you need to and move towards a much better life!
Here are six steps that may help you in making a change in your life:
- Awareness — becoming consciously aware of the pattern or issue
- Acknowledgment — admitting that you need and want to let go of the pattern
- Choice — actively choosing or making the decision to release the pattern
- Strategy — creating a realistic plan
- Commitment — taking action, with help by asking for external accountability
- Celebration — rewarding yourself for succeeding
The podcast of the radio show also goes into more detail on the reasons we succumb to repetitive patterns, as well as what to do to get out of them, and what certain patterns are trying to teach. To listen to the podcast, you can visit our website, AM950’s website, or download them wherever you get your podcasts.
If you would like help moving through your repetitive patterns and learning new, healthier ways to live, we have several options in our clinic that could be of service to you. Guided Imagery therapy is highly beneficial for breaking habits and learning the lessons you were meant to learn. Life coaching and spiritual coaching are also wonderful experiences that will help you create a life you desire to live! Call or email for an appointment today!