Are you stuck on repeat, repeat…
Daily routines don’t vary so much from day to day unless something unpredictable happens such as a sick child or an unexpected event. My daily routine is generally the same each day beginning with motherly duties followed by study, mixed in with the all too often visits on social media sites like face book (especially when studying a statistics unit ).
Once the afternoon progresses I am back to my motherly duties with some more studying and of course blogging! Today as I am writing this blog happens to be a Friday and every Friday for me feels a little like the movie ‘Ground Hog Day’. All too often I find myself repeating the phrase “WHAT it’s Friday again, it always feels like a Friday”. It feels like I had not lived through any other day of the week as it seems Fridays turn up faster than my kids can run when I ask them to wash the dishes.
Humans are often talked about as ‘creatures of habit’. Our habits tend to become quite predictable. We often like to sit in the same seats, order the same meals, buy the same style of clothes and visit the same places for family outings (alternating them of course). When I think about it I tend to play it safe and I have never been known for much of a risk taker. Even my shoes and handbags are quite similar!
When we go out for ice cream I find myself always choosing the one scoop of ‘dark chocolate’ on a waffle cone. To order anything else (in my mind) has the potential to ruin my ice cream experience as I just cannot seem to get away from dark chocolate nor can I bear the thought of choosing another flavour and walking away disappointed. It’s similar to the feeling you get when you are drinking that really good cup of coffee and for some reason or another you don’t get to finish it. You’re left feeling incomplete for the lack of experiencing that last mouthful.
There is no wrong in having a daily routine or enjoying that dark chocolate waffle cone (except for the calories) and it surely would not hurt to occasionally spice up life a little by adding some variety. However, what about those repeat mode settings in our lives that can leave us feeling lost and emotionally broken?
The topic of being stuck in repeat mode could keep me talking for days as I have experienced myself going around in circles for years in particular areas of my life. The truth is that I was so stuck in those patterns that I just couldn’t see them for what they were and the damage they were causing.
One particular pattern for me was very harmful and hurtful, not to mention a huge time waster. The quest to find ‘that perfect other’, which would fulfil my every desire and meet all of my needs, had me living in a pattern of boy chasing. I was convinced that once I met ‘that someone’ I would not feel lonely ever again and until I found that person I was going to be living empty and unfulfilled.
In hindsight of course it was so untrue! No person on this planet can fulfil your every desire and meet ALL of your needs. Despite that I was convinced that having ‘a boy in my life’ was going to fix up everything. So my life revolved around boys! This pattern of boy chasing was very repetitive, it took up too much of my time and more importantly messed with my emotions on a regular basis.
Some patterns can be obvious and others rather subtle. The boy chasing was more likely obvious to the people in my life at the time, yet I don’t think I wanted to recognise it as a problem. To admit it as a problem meant that I would need to stop chasing boys and live single until the right one came along. There was no way I was going to allow myself to feel lonely so the repetitive cycle continued until I met the man that was going to change my life forever.
Some of the more subtle types of patterns for me were emotional. One particular emotional pattern would put me into depression often for weeks at a time. As soon as life got too difficult and out of control (in other words it was out of my control) I would sort of panic and then go into a really dark place. It was as if someone just came along and hit a switch inside me and then off I went spiralling downhill. I would find it impossible to do life when that happened. Jumping into bed and pulling the covers over me felt comforting in some crazy way. It may have been somewhat stuffy and dark under there yet the darkness in my mind and emotions was so unbearable that hiding away from the world was safer and seemed like the only solution.
We often grow up with certain repeat mode settings or another way of putting it an automatic default setting. Turning off that repeat mode may take some time and for me it started with recognising it first. It was such a revelation when I noticed how connected my circumstances and the responses to those circumstances were.
Somewhere along my journey I had accepted a default setting that triggered depression every time life was out of control. Of course when terrible things happen one can understand that to feel depressed is normal. For me it was not always a traumatic event it was just that something was out of my control. I’d always wanted life to go right and when it didn’t I just couldn’t handle it. It was the same when people close to me made decisions that were not the best, I would react and respond in panic followed with depression. I needed to get to a place in which circumstances were no longer ruling my emotions.
Not so many years ago I had one of those lightning bolt moments and realised that I did not have the ability to control people’s decisions. People were going to do what they wanted regardless, so once I realised this as a problem I settled it once and for all and decided that I was no longer going to carry unnecessary burdens that were not mine. Instead of holding onto everyone’s choices I began recognising that the choices people make are not in my control therefore ‘it was best just to let go’ and focus on my own decisions and choices.
A lot of my healing happened when I was intentional about finding an answer, that rather than ignoring the obvious I decided to face the issues one step at a time. Not everyone can do this on their own of course so I would recommend seeing a professional if that is the case.
It is so freeing when you can find your way off the merry go round. We all have life experiences and some affect us more than others. Those repeat mode settings can keep you going in circles preventing you from living life freely. It is not easy to take a risk and become vulnerable yet the benefits are long term.
It is all too easy to become familiar with unhealthy responses and keep putting up with them; it is very rewarding to discover better responses that do not leave you emotionally empty. No one likes listening to the same song over and over for too long, after a while it just gets really old.
It might be time to change the music.