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Why is This Happening Again? Life’s Recurring Lessons

Updated on August 20, 2015
You know you've been here before.
You know you've been here before. | Source

Been There, Done That

How often have we had a sense of déjà vu, or "I've been here before."

Beyond the paranormal aspects, it happens if we consciously reflect on our past actions and interactions when we have similar situations and circumstances happening today.

This reflection can help us see if we liked or disliked the outcomes or results.

Rather than creating the illusion that we're born under a bad sign, or that we are unlucky, or the universe just doesn't like us, we can take a moment and determine our part in the similar situations.

What's familiar about the situations? What's the usual behaviors? What's the usual outcomes?

Do you find yourself dissatisfied with your typical life outcomes?

See results

Same Old, Same Old

I usually use alcoholics and addicts as a reference point for self-defeating behaviors - we seem to be the poster children for them. However, it's not just us alcoholics and addicts that act in counter-productive ways.

Most people operate in a codependent manner in some of their interpersonal experiences. Unfortunately, there is no one accepted definition of codependency, but there are universally held examples of it.

Codependents tend to process life situations from the following:

1. Concerned about what other people think about you

2. Constantly trying to please others, at personal expense

3. Difficulty saying, "No," when it's appropriates

4. Dysfunctional Communication including:

5. Feeling inadequate or less than

6. Frequently feeling resentful

7. Inability to express thoughts and feelings

8. Low Self-esteem

9. Neglecting one's needs

10. Not liking or accepting yourself

11. Weak boundaries

12. Thinking that you aren't good enough or worth the same as others

Source
We don't get resolution, we get even
We don't get resolution, we get even | Source

Everyday Repeating Situations

Say your boss invariably expects you to work late on Friday nights. While you believe that this is an unreasonable demand, you're fearful of the repercussions if you do not work overtime. Still, this costs you time, your babysitter charges you double per your agreement, and your husband wonders about the timing.

Instead of discussing this with your boss to find out why this happens so often, you hang your head passively and comply, but are seething inside. The following week, you procrastinate and don't get work done, rationalizing to yourself that he'll just make you work late on Friday, so what does it matter?

Or that new co-worker; a single mom with two children, an absent Dad, and not enough hours to get her responsibilities done. So when she asks you to babysit so she can go the grocery store, you willingly agree. You understand because you used to be a single mom.

Then you find out that she did not go grocery shopping, but to dinner and a movie instead. You feel used and lied to and yet, you say nothing. You just get angry without voicing these feelings.

You then find excuses to stay away from her. You claim to have so much work to do that you can't leave for a lunch date made weeks prior.

Then there's the friend who you consider your closest confidant. At a school function, you find out that she has betrayed a confidence, and you are embarrassed and feel betrayed. However, you don't talk directly to the friend; you just start a rumor about her.

In each of these instances, there's codependency, but also an element of passive-aggressive behavior. It's a pattern of indirect hostility towards people that shows up in being stubborn, sullen, deliberately not meeting expectations, or procrastinating. In all these instances, you felt put upon and reacted poorly.

What prompts this self-defeating behavior in most of us? For some it's:

• We did not want them angry at us for telling the truth

• We were afraid our honesty might hurt their feelings

• We falsely thought we couldn't tell them our perceptions and realities

We can do things differently with practice.
We can do things differently with practice. | Source

So, What's a Different or Better Behavior?

The reality is that life situations will happen again; choice is doing something differently. When we have some gratitude for these second and third chances to do something another way, we get engaged in the process of change.

"Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.” ― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Successful people learn from their mistakes and missed opportunities. They do not continue with behaviors, attitudes, or actions that got them negative consequences; they quit butting their heads up against the brick wall! They resolve to:

• Learn from their mistakes

• Make the effort to evaluate what happened

• Determine why something fell apart

• Discover their part in life situations

• Do things differently if they have another opportunity.

Setting better boundaries, taking care of yourself and your primary responsibilities and expecting resolution with cooperation takes practice.
Setting better boundaries, taking care of yourself and your primary responsibilities and expecting resolution with cooperation takes practice. | Source

New Opportunities Each Day

So this time, you sit down with your boss at a convenient time for both of you.

You discuss why working on Fridays is such a problem. You then ask that you and your boss collaborate to resolve the situation.

You have your workload and a schedule ready to jointly work out a time-frame for completion, or to discuss other compensation for overtime.

You muster the courage to tell your co-worker that you felt manipulated and used when she didn't do as she said. You point out to her that you are afraid she will be mad at you for saying something, but that your old pattern of codependency needs to change.

You talk candidly with your friend and listen to her side of the story. Did she inadvertently break a confidence, or intentionally? When you have the facts, you can make a decision to continue the relationship or dissolve it.

Welcome an Opportunity to Do Something Different

If similar life situations didn't occur again, you would miss an opportunity to act, react or respond differently. When life situations have a familiar aspect to them, think about your previous outcomes.

Did you like them? If so, there's probably no point in changing the behaviors, however, if you didn't like them, then take the time to figure out what went wrong.

Looking at your part, making changes or amends lets you interact with people differently.

Your Resources for Change

What resources do you use if you want to change a behavior?

See results

What Are Your Resources for Change?

When people decide to change, they are often confused about where to find answers. Most of us have many resources for change including:

• Supportive people in your life

• Encouragement from yourself or others to change

• Guidance for change

• Directions for change

• Family, friends, co-workers, employers

• People in recovery support meetings

• Google, Bing or Ask: Researching directions for change

Source

Since each day is going to bring an opportunity to have a similar life lesson, when we modify the patterns of our behaviors or work on our codependency issues, we get a chance to act differently.

So, instead of reacting poorly, or being resentful of the similar situations happening, we can process this from, "Thank goodness this is happening again, I can do something different."

© 2015 Marilyn L Davis

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    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, Medusa 13; thanks for your clarification and valid point. ~Marilyn

    • Medusa13 profile image

      Chelsea Rowe 2 years ago from Henrietta, New York

      Yes, people definitely have choices in how they respond. I was just pointing out that fear and anxiety will influence how others choose to respond in many situations like the ones you presented.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good afternoon, Medusa13; certainly other issues will factor, however, the point of the article is that similar situation will happen to us and we have a choices in how to respond or react.

      Thank you for your input. ~Marilyn

    • Medusa13 profile image

      Chelsea Rowe 2 years ago from Henrietta, New York

      Anxiety can play a big part in many of the situations you presented.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Laura335; I'm sorry to hear that, although you've identified some problem areas in your life - that's the good news. One thing that helps me is to weigh which one causes me more concern. My fears of change or the idea of change versus what I'm getting in return for staying the same. Most times, I end up overcoming my fear of changes as opposed to the cost of staying the same. Maybe that will encourage you further. ~Marilyn

    • Laura335 profile image

      Laura Smith 2 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      This definitely sums up the difficulties I have been having, and it is so hard to change behaviors and patterns, even when you can't stand your current situation. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, manatita44; yes, I thought they were common enough issues that quite a few people would be able to relate. Also, learning from others is a gift we don't have to pay for except to be observant. Thanks for your comment. ~Marilyn

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      I ought that you looked at and homed in on some common problems quite well. Learning from those who stumbled before us, is a great idea. Carry on my friend. Peace.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, DJ; thank you. My father said that until our final breath, we should be trying to improve. I didn't heed this for a long time; now, I'm trying to make up for some lost time and am not sure it's possible, but I'll keep trying.

      Just as I didn't always listen to my father, but got impressed by others saying the same thing, I am hoping that people read these Life Lesson articles and get something out of them, even though their families, friends and associates have said the same things. ~Marilyn

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Super article!

      You should be teaching this in school.

      It takes a wise person who can see and make changes in his own world.

      It also may take a change in worlds to find the wisdom we search out.

      I have been at both ends of that learning curve.

      You should be commended for the super hubs you are presenting.

      Thanks,

      DJ.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Chris; sometimes we have to put a different spin on things. If someone tells you "no", what is your reaction? Are you mad? Are you disappointed? Do you drop them from your life? Probably in most cases, you accept their answer with a legitimate reason. The same happens for us when we begin to say "no" for the right reasons. If you cannot do something, it creates a burden on you, or you do not have the time, it is legitimate to say "no." Hope that helps. ~Marilyn

    • Chriswillman90 profile image

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      I'm reading through your hub and a lot of your points apply to me. I care too much what others think, and I'm afraid of the repercussions of saying no.

      I'm hoping to look past it and think differently. Very useful hub.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, Nell; so glad you changed and it certainly sounds like for the better. It takes us as long as it takes us to make significant changes, and then often, we're like - what was I waiting for?! Thanks for your comment and your personal experience. Added value to the piece. ~Marilyn

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Hi, reading this I could have hidden behind my hands! this was all so me a few years ago! scared to tell the person who was taking advantage, never changing anything, same old traps, same old thing, but these days I don't suffer fools as my mum used to say! I learned the hard way, then one day, boom, never again! great read! nell

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, Audrey; thanks for the kind words and sharing. I appreciate both. ~Marilyn

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, Whitney; coming from you and knowing a little about your childhood, your comment means a lot to me. Thank you. ~Marilyn

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      What a great article!! sharing!

    • profile image

      Whitney Rose Wood 2 years ago

      This article may be the most helpful I have seen. I agree with the "resources for change" Most people I know who have struggled tend to shut themselves away from any positive opportunities. Sometimes just being able to get past that and let people in can be the hardest hurdle. I am voting this up.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good afternoon, Denise; good to hear from you again. I know you've had to risk taking chances and get better outcomes. I appreciate the first hand validation for the piece. ~Marilyn

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      It is great that we can change, that we can make different choices and make our lives better! Sometimes, it is difficult, though, it means going out into the unknown and taking risks. We don't know what the outcome will be, but surely, it can be better than it was!

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Venkatachari M. Your additional insight adds value to this article; thank you. We should use the lessons to improve, but unfortunately, I think a lot of people just complain. Ah, well...as my grandmother always said, "Make sure your own house is in order." So, I'll see if I can improve on my performance today....she smiles. ~Marilyn

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      It's very interesting and serious topic which needs much attention and perception. We should use these recurring opportunities to improve ourself instead of complaining. This fact is beautifully described by you with examples. Thanks for sharing it.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good afternoon, Pollyanna Jones 8; thank you. I think in the final analysis, there are two primary lessons to learn, although the subject, topic, or circumstances can change. We can operate from a loving place or fear. You're right, those negative things will just keep coming as well, until we change our reactions to planned responses.

      I appreciate you adding value to the article with your comment. ~Marilyn

    • Pollyanna Jones profile image

      Pollyanna Jones 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is a fantastic piece. I came to the understanding that most bad things will keep happening until I learn the lesson from them. It takes a bit of courage and self analysis to move on and improve, putting things behind us and down to experience. Every day is an opportunity for change.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good afternoon, Vernon; quite true. Thanks for that additional example. ~Marilyn

    • profile image

      VERNON BALMER JR. 2 years ago

      It also happens when people do repeat the same actions and speech.

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