Are You Facing Repeating Patterns in Your Life?

Have you watched Groundhog Day before? It’s a movie about a TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) who goes to a small town to cover an event called Groundhog Day. Phil is a cynical and arrogant person and looks down on everyone.

Phil (Bill Murray), an arrogant weatherman in the movie Groundhog Day

Bill Murray as Phil, an arrogant weatherman who looks down on everyone

At first everything seems normal as he goes onsite and covers the event, while acting like an a*shole to everyone. But then he wakes up the next day and realizes something strange: it’s the same day again! The worst thing is, no one notices this but him!

(Note: Massive spoilers ahead)

Initially, Phil is very confused. Then frustrated. He starts off by behaving even more rudely to those around him. Then he decides to have fun with it, from getting into a police car chase to taking advantage of women (geez).

But no matter what he does, he wakes up in the same day each day. Over and over again.

Phil (Bill Murray), stuck in the same day over and over

Phil stuck in the same day over and over

As reality sets in, Phil becomes very depressed. He tries to commit suicide, but it doesn’t work as the time loop would reset itself. No matter what he does, he’s back where he was.

Eventually he decides to change his actions. He uses knowledge of the time loop to help himself and others. He picks up skills like ice sculpting, playing the piano, and learning a new language. He also goes around saving people, including catching a boy who falls off a tree and saving a choking man.

Groundhog Day - Phil mesmerized by piano piece

Phil is mesmerized by a piano piece while at a restaurant and decides to learn piano

As Phil changes from being a deeply cynical person who hates everyone, to a positive and sincere person who works on improving himself and helping others, the time loop breaks. He finds himself in a new day, finally out of the time loop.

Negative Patterns in Our Life

There are many meaningful life lessons to get out of the movie. For me, one of the lessons is how the time loop can be seen as a representation of the negative patterns in our life.

Do you face any negative patterns in your life? For example:

  • Constant struggles with weight,
  • Constant issues with money,
  • Constantly meeting toxic partners,
  • Having the same issues and arguments with your partner,
  • Having the same conflicts with your family/friends,
  • Struggling with a bad habit (e.g. drinking, smoking, overeating),
  • Constantly setting goals and not following through, or
  • Constantly facing the same struggles with your children.

While these patterns vary, they all have something in common: they keep happening again and again. Sometimes, we may think that the problem is gone, but it happens again after some time, meaning it was never gone.

For example, we may end a toxic relationship and think “that’s it” and we’re free of it, but then our next relationship turns out to be toxic as well. Or we may lose weight and think that we’ve overcome our weight problems, but we regain the weight after a few months, ending up with the same weight, and a little more.

Looping vine

A loop (Image: tanakawho)

Are you familiar with the concept of reincarnation? In Buddhism, there is a belief in reincarnation, which is the continuous rebirth of a soul after death into a new physical body. It is believed that a soul will be continually reborn, whether as an animal or human, until it learns the required life lessons and reaches enlightenment. Rebirth then stops and the soul transcends to the next level.

Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, this concept can be applied to our negative life patterns. From my years of coaching and self-development, repeating life problems rarely happen by chance. When you find yourself in a repeating life situation, chances are they are there to teach you a lesson. There is a message that your higher self is trying to tell you. Until you understand what the message is and act on it, the pattern will keep happening, again and again. It is when you look within to understand the life lesson and act on it, that the pattern stops and the loop is permanently broken.

Pattern #1: Struggle With Weight

A repeating problem I faced in my teens and 20s was my inability to lose weight and keep it off. I was never overweight but I had excess weight which I wanted to lose. I would exercise and eat healthy, but my weight loss would be thwarted by overeating episodes, where I would either (1) binge eat after a period of healthy eating, or (2) feel discouraged from going off-track on my diet one time and then eat excessively for a few days, before restarting my weight loss plan.

Exercising was never a problem, I had no issues sticking to my exercise plans. Emotional eating was my issue. From weight loss plans to mass exercising to fasting to embarking on different diets, I tried them all. There were times when I reached my ideal weight, say through rigorous dieting or fasting. But I would rebound to my previous weight after a while. It seemed like I was destined to struggle with food and weight my entire life, and to be stuck at a heavier weight.

After exhausting all physical means to address this issue, I realized I was missing one dimension — the spiritual dimension. I looked within to understand why I kept overeating, why I kept struggling with my weight. The answer was astounding. I found out that I was repeatedly overeating because I kept pushing myself, ignoring my needs, and not loving myself. Food was my companion when I wasn’t to myself. To eat was to comfort myself. To eat was also to punish myself, because I hated myself for failing in my plan again.

My overeating behavior was my subconsciousness’ way of screaming at me to pay attention, to stop ignoring myself, and to love myself.

The answer was then to stop pushing myself and listen to my needs. Stop working on things I don’t love and stop ignoring my needs. Listen to my inner self to understand what I want to do. Really love, honor, and respect myself.

As I did this, my negative eating patterns started to disappear. From my highest weight of 65kg (143lb), I naturally reached 58+kg (128lb) and have stayed this way since (it’s been over 10 years). By understanding the message behind this repeating pattern, and acting on it, I was finally able to break it for good.

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Pattern #2: Money Struggles

Man stressed over his bills

(Image: mproduction)

A repeating pattern can also be money-related. For example, I once worked with a client N who had been in debt for the past 10 years. Even though he is a successful entrepreneur running multiple profitable businesses, he struggled with money and was constantly dealing with bank overdraft statements and paying his employees on time.

Prior to our sessions, N worked with a business coach who told him to charge more and remove low-return clients, so as to earn more. While this was logical business advice, the problem was more than that. Because it almost seemed like N was trying to be in debt. He was constantly spending without regard of his bank balance. Even if he did charge more, he would likely earn more but also spend more, and hence remain in debt.

The question came down to, “Why is N in debt? Why does he keep struggling with money even though he’s earning good money and clinching high value deals each month?” As we dug within to find the answer, we found

  1. He wasn’t enjoying his work. While N was passionate about his business, he wasn’t enjoying his daily work. Seventy percent of his days were spent chasing deadlines and doing coordination work, which he hates. The tasks he loves to do are ideation (creating new products) and getting out there to network and pitch deals. These were taking up 30 percent of his work days. Since he was doing things he hated, he would feel drained, after which he would readily spend money to “reward” himself.
  2. He didn’t really care about getting out of debt. When I asked N why he wanted to get out of debt, his immediate answer was, “To achieve financial freedom.” Yet financial freedom isn’t a real goal — it’s a means to an end. “Exactly why do you want financial freedom?” I asked N, which then stumped him. Because he didn’t have a clear reason to get out of debt — like understanding the clear benefits of being debt-free and having a strong motivation WHY — he continued to stay in debt each month.

So we worked on first, creating a work structure that energized him, and second, creating a real motivation to get out of debt. With (1), he delegated the tasks which he didn’t want to do to his staff, and planned a work agenda centered on product creation, networking, and closing deals — tasks he thrives at and which build the business. With (2), he discovered his deepest passion is to grow as a human and to help other entrepreneurs. To do this to the fullest, he needed to be out of debt — it was draining him each month, dealing with overdraft statements and finding money to pay people.

With this, N became naturally excited about his work. He started to show up for our coaching sessions energized and happy. This was a sharp contrast to the past, when he was tired all the time and kept going on vacations to be happy. Instead of spending money to be happy, he is now intrinsically happy — which means his money now goes toward clearing his debt every month (vs. filling a void in his heart).

Pattern #3: Meeting Toxic Men

Bored couple in restaurant

(Image: nd3000)

The last repeating pattern I’m going to share is meeting toxic partners.

A while back I conducted Soulmate Journey, my course on finding authentic love. One of the many things I did with my participants was to analyze their past relationships, identify trends, and draw lessons from these trends.

With my client H, we found that she had a pattern of attracting toxic men. This wasn’t just in love — looking at her life, H had been in the company of toxic people her whole life, be it family or friends. Her family members constantly bullied her and made her feel unwanted (they told her they “don’t want her around”), while her “friends” regularly criticized her about her weight and looks.

Through our sessions, H realized that she attracted these toxic relationships as she didn’t love herself. Deep down, she saw being bullied as a way of getting affection, which came from a very old childhood story. Growing up, this was how her siblings treated her and it was the only way she knew to get attention. Hence, H would tolerate toxic behavior from others to maintain the relationships. She also felt the need to please and be nice to everyone, even when the person was being mean to her. This made her very miserable because she was putting up with negative behavior to get perceived “love.”

The answer was to stop putting up with bad behavior from others and to work on loving herself from within. As H worked on loving herself and being her best self, she

  • Lost 4.1kg (9.0lb), which she wasn’t able to do for the last 10 years;
  • Drew boundaries with her family, when she did not do this before;
  • Distanced herself from toxic friends, when she would feel obligated to meet them before;
  • Joined meetup groups and made new friends (in her words, she has “never met anyone as passionate about writing as she is”!);
  • Took control of her debt situation; and
  • Started pursuing her passions of traveling, writing, and photography. She went on three solo trips in four months, joined a writers’ group, and started to build her photography portfolio!

The funny thing is, we didn’t set out to achieve these when we started. We just worked on understanding why she was attracting toxic men — to understand the life lesson behind this repeating life pattern. The message was to love and respect herself, and to live her life without putting it on hold for others. When she worked on it, everything flowed into place.

Are There Repeating Patterns in Your Life?

Here are my questions to you:

  1. Are there any repeating patterns in your life?
  2. Why do you think this pattern is happening? What is the message your subconsciousness is trying to send you?
  3. How can you apply this lesson?

Receive this life lesson and act on it. For Phil in Groundhog Day, it took him 30-40 years before he internalized the lesson to be a kinder, better person and actualized it, hence breaking the time loop. For you though, I doubt you will need this long. I have a feeling that now that you’ve read this post, you’ll know what to do and break out of the loop. 🙂

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