Many times we hear someone lament that they “keep falling for the same type of…” guy or girl or whatever it is, and in their voice we hear sorrow and a bit of defeat. As if they’re asking “What’s wrong with me?” and expecting an answer right there, in that moment, from the universe.
Only if it were that simple.
Perhaps when we were younger, we believed that the universe owed us answers and that we were god-like enough to demand them. Like most people, I maintain friendships that have lasted more than 40 years. Within that group – a group that seems to grow smaller each year – there are only a handful who have actually learned from their own patterns and done the work to change them.
It’s fairly easy to recognize when we’re not happy. Or at least we imagine that that’s true. For the sake of this post, let’s assume that it is true, that we’re self-aware enough to know when we’re unhappy with certain elements in our lives, be it a relationship, a job, or something else that we seem “stuck” with. We chose the word “stuck” because it implies that we have no choice but to accept the way things are. Perhaps the old adage “You made your bed, now you must lie in it” is something we’ve heard so many times, we just accept that it’s true.
Those friends who we’ve grown up with who seem to *always* make the same or similar poor choices for themselves are still making them, twenty, thirty, forty, even fifty years later. And they continue to complain about it until you realize that if they hadn’t created something to complain about, they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. For them, it’s their pattern, and even though it’s not now nor has it ever worked for them, staying with it is so much easier than trying to change. You can almost hear them in your head saying, “But I’ve always done it this way!”
We read in magazines or hear on television and radio those people who find themselves in an abusive relationship and, for some reason that remains inexplicable to us, stay with the person who has seriously harmed them in some way. We might think to ourselves, How could anyone be so dumb and not see that something was wrong?
It’s a choice. Everything in our lives comes down to choice. When faced with a situation or event that is unhealthy for us, we either choose to participate, or we choose not to participate. The same holds true for wanting to be happy. If we continually make choices that detract from our pursuit of inner happiness, then we’re working against ourselves at every step of the way.
When faced with such a decision, we can fall back on “old patterns” and once more make the same choices we made that got us into that situation in the first place, or we can make the decision to make better decisions for ourselves. In doing so, we’re acknowledging that there will be hard work ahead, riddled with seeming setbacks and missteps that make us want to scream and pull our hair out by the handfuls.
Change is hard. Staying the same is easy.
When we begin to recognize our own antics, we can make better, more conscientious decisions for ourselves. When faced with a choice between being happy or not, try to take a step back, recognize and acknowledge the choices before you, and ask yourself, Which is best for me…staying the same, or working hard to change the way I’ve “always” done things? You might be very surprised at the answer you get.