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Pattern Repetition

How to hit the brakes on your personal Groundhog's Day

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Do you keep repeating the same patterns in your life or your relationships? Do you experience the same kinds of conflicts again and again? Do you find yourself in parallel scenarios year-after-year even though they’re unpleasant? Do you feel like you’ve got the same storylines on repeat? 

You’re not alone. This type of life-loop is pretty standard. The bad news is, you get stuck repeating the same drama with different actors until you learn the intended lesson and evolve. The good news is that when you recognize it, you can interrupt the pattern, edit it, and grow forward! 

Repetition in life patterns is a perfect topic during Mercury in retrograde because many of us revisit the past during these transits and have the opportunity to glean insights we may have missed the first go-around. In pattern repetition, you’ll experience similar scenarios with different people and new circumstances. These repeaters are frequently:

  • Unhealthy family dynamics
  • Toxic romantic situations
  • Workplace dramas
  • Financial failures 
  • Health problems

The plots are uncannily similar. The conflicts are analogous. The players are almost identical. And worst of all, the outcomes are near indistinguishable. So, why do you keep manifesting the same crap? 

As with so many other issues, these patterns often begin in childhood. You established your patterns of relating to the world at a young age. Much of your approach to dealing with people and operating within society was determined before you were mature enough to evaluate the behaviors you were modeling. Unfortunately, the resulting systems are often incomplete with justifications you don’t understand and beliefs you adopted without vetting. The structures upon which your emotional life is built, are a collection of bits and bobs from family, society, and friends, all cobbled together. When inspected, these systems lack cohesion and fail to reflect your deepest desires. As a result, you built emotional structures on faulty foundations handed down to you by people who never took the time to evaluate them. Your enmeshed core behaviors and approaches to dealing with the world are so deep in your personality that you don’t even think to evaluate or revise them. They are in part of your basic understanding of the world, your operating system. Right next to colors and counting. They seem so foundational that adjusting can feel emotionally dangerous. However, untangling and dismantling those old patterns is exactly what you must do if you want to exit the circuit. 

Get to the root of your loop

Stated simply, you’ll get the same situations until you figure out how to incorporate the lessons they have to teach you. Without synthesis, you’ll experience similarity. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to realize that you’re stuck in a repeater until you’re well into the reboot. To get to the root and understand the lesson, you’ll need to dive deep. This may involve reliving the situation(s) from the past, journaling, or talking extensively with someone until you’re able to see where you’ve had unfulfilled opportunities to grow. 

If patterns occur across domains in your life, the origin may be a more pervasive way of thinking, your overall paradigm, or early coding that requires a revision. You may uncover shadow aspects ( parts of the self that are less-enlightened or desirable, and therefore hidden) that require attention. If you have experienced deep trauma, you may need the help of a behavioral health professional to release old patterns. It is also possible that you’re stuck in karmic or ancestral patterns that require the support of a spiritual healer or shamanic practitioner. 

Modify your status quo

When it comes time to interrupt detrimental patterns, accountability is your bestie. If you own it, you can shift it! When you become consciously aware of a pattern, recognize the origin, and acknowledge the desire to repattern, you’ve done the most challenging part. The rest is just practice. 

Once you realize that you need to break a pattern, you can focus on the heart of the matter, the reality-shaping beliefs that are the framework for the recurring situation. These can be incredibly straightforward. An example: you may not believe you’re smart enough to seek a higher caliber job, so you keep taking positions below your skill level, leading to chronic dissatisfaction. Thank your lucky stars if that’s the case because you can start shifting beliefs (and gaining skills) the moment you recognize the problem. 

Other patterns come from harder to uncover beliefs (or groups of beliefs). These will be more difficult to upgrade because you’ll have to work to uncover them and or revamp each belief in a group. Still, if you’ve recognized the pattern, you’re ready to interrupt it, and you have the emotional resources to transform.  

The steps to pattern interruption

  1. Identify the pattern: Spend some time listing the similarities, the aspects that irritate you, draw charts, label the standard players, and make a note of the feelings the pattern triggers. 
  2. List the underlying beliefs: This may be challenging because the beliefs that underpin a situation can be painful and make you feel intensely vulnerable. Follow the emotional thread to the origin. Freewrite or chat with someone you trust until you feel you’ve gotten to the beliefs at the origin of the pattern. 
  3. Release & replace: It’s time to upgrade and overhaul beliefs that are keeping you stuck. You’ve identified the outdated and problematic beliefs; now, you need to replace them with thoughts that match your desired patterns. A lot of people will suggest that you clear these patterns by removing the beliefs, but I find that replacing works more quickly. In this process, you’ll vigilantly repeat the new beliefs, supplanting the old when they pop up until the revisions become your automatic, unconscious responses. You are un-memorizing an automatic response by inserting a better one; it will take time, at least a month, perhaps longer. Be patient and persistent. 

Change is never easy. However, freeing yourself from a repeating pattern can be simple if you’re willing to put in the effort. Scan your life for repeating patterns and spend time journaling and meditating on them. Once you tug the thread, it doesn’t take gargantuan effort to unravel the problem and figure out the lesson.  

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