My whole life I’ve seen repeated patterns; things that I do over and over. I heard recently: stop running. Wherever you go, you’re still there. People may change, the job may change, the location may change, but you’re still there. You’re still the one common factor. If you end up in the same situation, there’s probably a reason why you’re in that same situation again and again. It’s most likely because of something about you; something in your character or something that you’re doing that you need to change.
Right now, you’re rolling around in a hamster wheel. If you keep ending up in the same situation, you’re probably not even noticing the repeat patterns that you’re creating in your life or that have been created in your life. You’re probably not even paying attention. It’s time to start paying attention.
I’ve been in sales and marketing for about 25 years. Successful career no doubt, but I’d hit these walls. Most of the time it was with the upper management, one or two people within that arena. What I started to recognize was that, as I left my last marketing job and was ready to go out to start looking for another one, I said “Wait. Stop. Pay attention to what’s going on.” I noticed that in the places where I wasn’t successful, I didn’t respect my boss. I thought maybe I was hiding it from them, or maybe they didn’t notice that I didn’t respect them. I’m sure I didn’t blatantly say to them “I don’t respect you,” but it probably came out in my behavior. And this definitely made them react to that. No matter how good of a job I was doing, I became the one that got picked on, criticized and not praised appropriately or whatever those things may be. It was their way of retaliating and protecting themselves and their egos. Who knows what it was, but it was their way of reacting to the fact that I just didn’t respect them.
I needed to respect my bosses, probably no matter what, but I think it was challenging because I didn’t think they knew what they were doing. Again, I thought I was hiding it. Since then, because I recognized that pattern – and now clearly, I have my own company, but I still recognize that in other parts of my life as well, that lack of respect – I pay attention to that. I stopped. When I was starting my company, I did take a part-time marketing sales job, and I was able to stop myself at certain times to keep myself from getting to that level of disrespect, and really pay attention to the fact that this is a job, and that is my boss, and just to respect them as my boss, regardless of what was going on. That helped create more success for me, and I broke that pattern. I broke that cycle.
You can’t change people; you can only change yourself. You can’t change your environment, your jobs, your husband, your friends, but you can change “you.” If you keep running into it – that same pattern and that same situation, then there’s probably something going on.
Life lessons repeat themselves, and you’re going to keep running into that lesson until you learn it. God is here to mold us and to shape us into the best that we can be, and the way to do that is by using people and situations and challenges. If we’re not paying attention, we’re going to end up right in that same situation. But if we pay attention, we can break the cycle, break the pattern, and have more success.
So how do you resolve this? How do you get through this? How do you find these patterns?
Look at your life. Identify in your life right now – if you’re sitting there right now saying “I hate my boss,” stop and think. How many times have I said that in the past at other jobs? If you’re saying “Oh my gosh, my husband, I’m thinking of divorce” – how many times have you been in that situation? “Ugh, that friend of mine is just a pain in the…” How many times have you been in that situation?
Take a look at that. Look at the aspects of your life – friends, jobs, relationships and so forth. If you’re in a challenging situation right now; an uncomfortable situation, a situation where you’re always upset, a situation where they’re always upset, a situation that you can’t seem to get what you want out of, then chances are that there might be something that’s happened in your life again and again. Not once, not twice, but over and over.
It could be when you were younger. It could be in your teens, in your twenties, in your thirties, and maybe you’re now in your fifties, and it didn’t happen in your forties. And then you’re like “Oh.” But again, you’re facing that same type of friend, that same type of situation in your job, that same quality or something you see in your intimate relationships. Review each situation and look for the reoccurring patterns. Look for what’s the same. For example, with my job, I sat there and wrote down all the jobs that I had. You could go way back to your first job, or in my situation, just my professional career. I wrote down how I left there and what was going on, and if it was a great situation, I’d write that out. Then I was able to look at that and see the reoccurring pattern.
It’s a good idea to sit for a second. Stop for a minute! If you’re not able to see the pattern, stop for a minute. Sit there. Meditate on it and really think about it. If you can’t figure it out, ask for help. Ask someone who’s been in your life – like a friend of yours. Say “Hey, listen…” They could be like “Thank God you finally figured that out!” They’ve probably been wanting to tell you but didn’t want to hurt your feelings or whatever that may be.
See a therapist. If it’s something where you’re stopping and starting projects, then hire a life coach; someone that can motivate and help you see those reoccurring patterns, and help to define them. Just seek help from anyone; a mentor, a friend, someone who’s going to be able to look outside of the perspective and see that broad view and not be so close to it.
It’s probably going to take time as this is not going to be a quick type of thing, something where you’re just going to go “oh, that’s it.” It may be that you might have those “aha” moments and go “that’s it!” Or you might not. But it’s okay either way. The goal of this is for you to figure out what’s going on, what the problem is, and figure out that pattern. Find that pattern so you can stop it. Break the cycle.
Honestly, this could be something that’s in your family. You could go back and say “hey, my grandfather, my father and I are like this.” Break it. The only way you are going to get to that better life, that life of purpose and focus, is for you to get rid of all the garbage, and the stuff that you don’t need. That doesn’t mean life’s going to be perfect by any means. You’re going to continue to see challenges. But clearly, if you’re running into that same one over and over, it’s time to figure it out.
Once figured out, take action. Sit down and come up with a plan. In my case, the plan was, “is sales and marketing still for me?” And I figured out that it was “NO.” It’s probably not a career – I went into it because I was a single mom and needed to make money. But I later realized that I had different plans and aspirations. I wanted to be an author. I wanted to be someone that helps people. Bingo. Author/Life Coach.
So, figure out, “am I doing something I don’t want to do, and therefore it’s just not a good fit for me?
Another form of action in my case was to really learn how to respect someone, even though I might not like what they’re doing. I decided to learn how to respect the role of boss, the role of director, and the role of someone that has been given the task of telling me what to do. I decided to accept that role and respect that title, and not necessarily who’s holding it – I mean, it is what it is in that case – but I needed to respect the title so that I wasn’t going to be caught up in the details of “they walked across the floor the wrong way, I didn’t like that.” So, I can’t respect them.
In my case as well, I had to make some sacrifices. To start a business, I had to make a lot of sacrifices, and I had to come up with a plan. That was my taking action. Here I was, reoccurring the same situation in my jobs over and over again, very often. I didn’t see it because I was successful, but when I was able to see it and pay attention to it, then I was able to change the pattern.
That’s something you can do. Take that situation. I have friends that I don’t get along with that are controlling and have no boundaries. Okay, so how did you end up with those friends? Maybe pick better friends. Maybe you’re settling. Maybe you’re lazy. Maybe you like these people because they make you feel good about yourself. Whatever the thing is, figure it out and then take action. Maybe it’s sitting down with your friend and saying “Hey, you know what? This is how I feel; this is how you’re making me feel.” If it’s someone that you really value, sit down with them and have a conversation. If it’s someone that you look at, but you really don’t like them – if you don’t like them you don’t like them, then you move on.
Be careful as you’re choosing new friends, and coming upon new people to hang out with. Pay attention to what’s going on with that. That could be your action plan around your friends.
Coming up with action plans takes time, but it’s worth it. Once you come up with that, and you’ve figured out what you need to do and you take the action, then make a commitment, sit down and go “this is my action plan” and make a commitment to that – it might vary, it might deviate – but make a commitment to change that pattern, because you can fall right back into it so easily. Sometimes you get lazy, you get tired, and the old way seems easier. You’re used to it. But see it. Play it all the way through. “If I hang out with this person, I know that I’ve had this type of friend before. This kind of friend was bad news. This kind of friend led me to do these things that I didn’t want to do. I was uncomfortable. I spent time sitting around crying, and that deviated me from doing the thing that I wanted to do, which is to live my life with purpose.” Play it through, and I guarantee at that point that you’re not going to do it. You’ll go “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to end up back in that situation again.”
Life is about paying attention, being in the moment, being present, being aware, and taking action. Take the action you need to take. Change the pattern. Make a difference and change what you need to change, because you have things to do – and those things don’t include repeating the same old unproductive and physically, spiritually, mentally, and especially emotionally damaging situations over and over again.
An acquaintance of mine used to say, “A fool never walks into the village naked more than once.” Don’t be that fool. Put your clothes on and change your damaging patterns.