Why is This Happening Again? Life’s Recurring Lessons
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?
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
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
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.
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?
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
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