Sometimes, Nanette thinks her life is like that rom-com, Groundhog Day. She keeps trying to move forward and experiment with ways to change, only to find herself doing the same things and reacting the same ways. Whether it’s romantic relationships, situations at work, dealing with her family — she keeps going back to her old patterns, even though she knows they never bring her happiness.
A lot of people are like Nanette. Again and again, they find themselves making the same mistakes and bad choices. They’ve seen the results, and they know they won’t be happy, so what brings them back to those patterns?
Part of it is fear and familiarity. It’s common to be afraid or anxious of the unknown, but when we’re so afraid or anxious that we’re unable to move forward, we fall back to what we know. Take romance. The last three guys Nanette dated were so much alike it’s scary, starting with their profiles on the dating app. So if she goes back on the app, what are the chances she’s going to swipe on the same kind of guy … and if she does, do you think he’ll be like the others?
Nanette doesn’t like feeling drunk or hearing afterward about the things she said when she had one drink too many. The social situations she attends make her uneasy, and a drink or two helps her relax and talk to people, doesn’t it? But she doesn’t seem to stop at one or two.
Are you noticing something? She doesn’t understand why she keeps falling into the same old patterns, but they’re the result of the choices she makes. She makes those choices because she’s afraid of the other options available to her. Maybe that dating app isn’t the best choice for her, or she’s looking for the wrong kinds of guys. Maybe she needs to find other social situations where she’ll be more comfortable … or learn how to overcome her anxiety without a drink in hand.
Nanette doesn’t return to those patterns because she’s a bad person. She does it because her desire to be comfortable overcomes her desire to change. After each failed relationship, she tells herself she’s either through with dating or she’s going to look for a more stable kind of guy, but neither of those sounds all that easy, so it’s only a matter of days before she’s swiping on photos with that bad-boy grin.
Falling back on bad habits and bad patterns is the easy way out. Learning how to make real change, experiencing true transformation and creating healthier patterns takes work. Part of it is becoming familiar with the signs warning you’re headed back down the wrong path. Giving in to urges and cravings is often the first step toward resuming bad habits. Falling back on old tricks like flirting with the wrong guys or skipping positive strategies like not working out can also reinforce the wrong patterns.
Changing those patterns can be easier when you have help. Professional counselors like the team at Care to Change can help you identify what’s activating your own responses and guide you to strategies that can keep you on the right course. If you want life to be more than an endless series of Groundhog Days, contact us to set a time to talk.