Sometimes it seems as though history, our history, repeats itself. Recently, a family member asked, “why does this always happen to me?” In this case, it was simply misplaced keys (again). My immediate thought was, “because you never put your keys in the same place twice.” But I wisely kept this to myself as I don’t think their question was a literal one. It caused me to think about how many times a client, friend, family member or co-worker has asked this question. Heck, I’ve asked this question.
Patterns show up in all areas of our lives. Maybe you keep getting passed over for a promotion, or yet another relationship has let you down. Perhaps you have been taken advantage of…again, or you just can’t seem to dig out of your financial hole. As far as you can tell, if you admit it, there is one common denominator – you.
History really does repeat itself, at least until we change it. If you find yourself wondering why some particular event or challenge keeps repeating itself in your life, you may need to reflect on a few things. The beauty of this personal accounting is that there’s no need to share it with anyone. You can consider the areas below, keep the results to yourself (if you wish), then start working on changing the pattern.
Ultimately, you are going to be looking for patterns in your behavior. These patterns may not (and likely won’t) paint you in the prettiest picture, but that’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad person – it just means you are battling aspects about yourself just like every other human being is. So explore the questions below, embrace the answers you intuitively give, and start thinking about how you can change your history.
- What criticisms did your parents make of you when you were young? – When I was a tween, I remember my parents saying on more than one occasion that I had an answer for everything. While it would be nice to say I learned my lesson during this stage of life, sadly that’s not the case. It took many years as an adult to realize I didn’t always have to give an excuse, explain why I was right and someone else was wrong, or even say anything at all. Being argumentative was not a quality that people appreciated, so I had to learn when to zip it, and when to stand up for something. Choosing my battles – that wasn’t always my approach, but thankfully it is now.
- What opportunities continue to show up on job performance evaluations? – Ever feel like you just keep getting short-changed in the “boss” department? If you keep getting stuck with bosses (or employees, or co-workers) who don’t get you, maybe you need to consider how you’re contributing to these issues. It’s very likely the same demon is being mentioned in your performance evaluations. Often, where we are coming from is different from others’ perception of us. It doesn’t really matter who’s right or wrong in these situations. Others’ perceptions are absolute truth to them, so if we want to change it we have to change ourselves.
- What do you “always” or “never” do? – Often during arguments, someone will say, “You always…” or “You never…” While you could argue the full accuracy of these statements, there is likely a nugget of truth in these. Consider them and how you can begin improving.
- What are your strengths? – As with everything, even our strengths can be weaknesses. For example, if you are a trusting, generous person, there is likely a flip side to this coin. Perhaps you find you are taken advantage of a lot. Consider your strengths and how they may sometimes be used against you. Think about slight changes you could make that would minimize any future damage.
- Are bad things really happening more often to you? – Sometimes it’s our perspective that is out of whack. Do you really hit more red lights than anyone else or do you just seem to have an eye for the negative?
- Are you taking control or relinquishing it? – It’s so much easier to blame others for your challenges, but you always have control over some aspect of every situation. It’s quite possible that you are your own worst enemy in certain situations. Luckily, you are in charge of your behavior and your attitude. Use both to your advantage, and as a means to take control of challenging situations.
Hopefully, these have given you great insight, but remember – you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you are a giving person who keeps being taken advantage of, you don’t want to get rid of that great quality. You may just need to add some layers of protection to ensure you continue to stay true to your nature of being kind and generous, while preventing the leeches in life from feeding off of it.
When we take control of our short-comings and look them square in the eye, we alter our patterns and prevent our history (at least the parts we don’t like) from repeating in our lives. Be willing to confront yourself and to change those parts of you that are holding you back. You are the boss of you, so step up and resolve to make an even better version of yourself!
Share in the comments section which pattern you would like to change or one that you have already successfully changed.
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