Life, in and of itself, is cyclical. We’re born, we live, we die, and some believe that sequence repeats itself over again. But throughout life, we’re faced with even more cycles, patterns, repetitions. Some of these are great — another fiscal year, a work week that always ends in a weekend. However, some patterns in life, should be broken. We may not even realize we are stuck in these cycles. Maybe you’re starting and quitting jobs repeatedly, blaming circumstances “beyond your control.” Maybe you move houses or apartments every year and are never satisfied with where you’re living. Maybe you fluctuate your friendships. Maybe you’re always late for work or class. For me? I have a habit of dating the same kind of men and indulging in similar relationships. We all have something — we run around in the same circle searching for the right job, the right partner, the right home, the right friends, but our happiness remains elusive. We yearn for the adrenaline rush, but it’s only temporary, and once it wears off, we’re perpetually stuck.
Patterns occur as a result of internal, fundamental frameworks we live by. They are built around our beliefs and values, and in order to get rid of them, we have to reevaluate the repetitive behaviors, look inward to discover what triggers them, and determine how to resolve them at the root.
I was reading an amazing post on Positively Present about Stages of Recovery, about how we all need to, at some point in our life, recover from something.
Stages of Recovery
Stage 1: I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
Stage 2: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in this same place. But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
Stage 3: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I fall in…it’s a habit…but my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Stage 4: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it. Stage 5: I walk down a different street.
As she states, these stages are about hope. They’re about the concept that we can make mistakes (even make them more than once) and there is still hope that one day, we’ll walk down a different street. On our own road to recovery.
I know I’ve been late to business meetings, flake on plans, been with someone I shouldn’t have. Despite acknowledging the mistake and vowing I’d never do it again, I set the song on repeat and do it over. All of it. Again. I’d like to say that I learn from my mistakes (and I do), but sometimes it takes more than one time making that mistake before you realize you’re in a pattern, and it must change. Heck, sometimes it takes more than 10 times making that mistake.
We’ve all made bad choices — most of us more than one. I’m no longer ashamed to say that I’ve walked down that street, seen the damn hole, and fallen in over and over again. I’m no longer blaming it on accident, circumstance, habit, or that I “didn’t know.” Instead, I’m referring to these stages. And I have hope.
As I’ve always believed, we have the power to create our realities. We don’t have to be stuck in these cycles. The ability to change old patterns lies within us. We just have to be willing (and devoted) to making the necessary changes in our lives to slash that circle. Eliminate the legos it takes to build out that pattern.
The first step is acknowledging the hole. Identifying what is at the bottom of that deep black hole, and having the strength and the power to walk around it. It will take discipline and commitment and constant awareness of that hole, Make the conscious effort to avoid it. Just step around it — seems easy right?
Sometimes, we need a coach. Someone to guide us through these unknown paths. Maybe they’ve been there before and have come out unscathed on the other side. Maybe they just understand what you’re dealing with and want to help you. Either way, sometimes, we need a nudge and to be reminded, “Hey! Watch out! There’s a hole right there!”
We can turn to our friends, our family, the people who know us best. People we know will rip us as far away from the holes as humanly possible. We’ll lean on the people around us until we can avoid the big black holes all by ourselves.
And then one day, we’ll walk down an entirely different street.