Have you ever seen the film, ‘Ground Hog Day’? If you have, you can recall that the main character is forced to experience the same day-every day. I don’t want to spoil the story for those of you who have not seen the film but for me this film resonates with a universal human experience. That is, we tend to repeat things in our life. After all, this is the essence of habit or routine. However, we can often find ourselves repeating the same mistake or ‘bad’ habit time after time, despite our best of efforts to try and change things. Why is this?
To some extent this is one of the painful realisations of personal growth. There exists a very real force in the human Psychology to repeat. To repeat the negative as well as the positive. If we have some difficulty in life such an addiction or perhaps a destructive relationship pattern. It can seem crazy if we are then ‘told-you’re actually invested in this continuing.’
If that is true, then what else is true?
That at many levels we don’t want to change even if the current situation is painful. The daft thing is that we often don’t realise this because we are to busy or distracted looking for the cause in other people rather than inquiring within.
There are many payoffs repeating our problems or ‘resisting change’
- Negative repetitive actions/thoughts can feel familiar.
- We can avoid the discomfort of having to change.
- We can place blame and responsibility whilst at the same time ducking our own accountability.
- Negative repetitions give us some predictability. They meet our need for certainty.
- We often get rewarded with attention and validation. As far as the human mind goes any attention (even if its negative) is better than no attention.
- Its easier-it requires less cognitive effort to use well used automatic ways of reacting and thinking then it does to cultivate new thoughts and actions.
- There can be perceived and real negative consequences to changing. For example valuing your own opinion more could threaten others and so cause rejection-could you cope with that? Or is it easier just to think you don’t matter much.
The good news is that change is possible. It is made easier when we don’t ignore the realities I have talked about above. You can’t solve a problem that is denied.