We Repeat What We Do Not Repair

I’ve been thinking about a simple concept; pregnancy and birth. You see, I didn’t like being pregnant. Nope. Not one little bit. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my three children, but being pregnant with them was not joyful. Then again, neither was the toddler years for one of them, ahem 4 hours of sleep per night, kid! Just because I disliked pregnancy, doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, however, if I disliked it so much then why did I have THREE kids?!?!

This simple question had me wondering why we often do things again and again that we don’t like. What is it that makes us repeat things? I always figured the pregnancy thing had more to do with emotions. Once you’ve given birth and you have that little bundle in your arms, all of the pain and annoyance of being pregnant is gone. It’s like that little baby just made every negative emotion you had about pregnancy disappear.

And then you forget.

Time moves on.

Your child goes beyond the newborn days into toddler years, and you have this urge to have another baby. {I’m aware this isn’t the case for everyone, but stay with me here, please!} I knew that our brains had to forget the strong emotion attached to pregnancy so that we could procreate. I mean there would be a lot of one-child families and upset spouses if we were to agree to have ‘x’ number of kids but change our minds 100% after that first pregnancy.

This basic concept that our brain doesn’t want us to feel pain or anything negative is sort of normal. I’m not a psychologist or whatnot, but my belief is that someone like me who dislikes pregnancy has another baby because low and behold; that brain of ours reset the emotions attached to pregnancy so we forget how awful we felt during pregnancy and procreate again.

Now let’s take this concept into something else, such as repeating what we do not repair. Sigmund Freud refers to this as “the desire to return to an earlier state of things”. This means a child that had abusive parents tends to date someone like that abusive parent. Even though this makes no sense logically, this falls under the category of “we repeat what we do not repair”.

Some weird part of us thinks that we can do better next time, we can fix it next time, or in the case of my dislike of pregnancy, “maybe I’ll like this pregnancy”. Here’s a hint; I didn’t like any of my pregnancies, not the 1st not the 2nd, and definitely not the 3rd but here I am to live to tell the story and LOVE my children unconditionally.

It’s just that pregnancy was something I clearly couldn’t change no matter how many times my brain let me forget why I disliked being pregnant in the first place; I was emotionally out of control and I disliked it. I didn’t like feeling out of control of my mind, body, and emotions for 9 whole months. I didn’t like it then, I won’t like it now, and I won’t like it should my brain say “let’s have another baby” in the future.

That’s a simple fact!

Repeating Relationships until You Learn

Now I’d like to change the topic to relationships. My little story about pregnancy was used to help you get the point I was trying to make; our brain tricks us into thinking that something, when repeated, will be better the next time. That is not always the case! When you take this concept and place it into the relationship side of life, OMG, you get some disastrous results. At least with pregnancy, you’re able to have kids that you adore, and love to pieces, but repeating bad relationships?!

When you repeat bad relationship patterns you’ll find yourself lost, hurt, destroyed, and confused. It will hurt you deeper than you ever realized and it will hurt worse every time it happens! Not just by what the unhealthy partner did but how you hurt your ego – you couldn’t and didn’t fix “it”.

The “it” I refer to is the elephant in the room – you keep repeating these bad relationship patterns because it feels familiar, you have hope it will be different, maybe you think you can fix the situation, perhaps you’re prone to needing someone to fix, or just maybe, you never fixed what caused you to develop this pattern in the first place 😉

Perhaps, much like the pregnancy topic, I discussed earlier in this article, we think that this unhealthy relationship will be different next time. Whether you go back to an ex that was abusive thinking that maybe they changed or you date another person who shows signs of your ex, thinking that perhaps this person will be different.

These patterns of behavior we often repeat until we learn more about what’s broken or wounded internally that keeps us from setting boundaries, trusting our gut, and making better decisions next time. I’m confident in telling you that your abusive ex or that new beau that exhibits warning signs won’t be any different this time around.

That ex or a similar person is simply coming back into your life because you’re being tested. You’re being tested to see if you’ve grown enough to set the boundaries, say no, and commit to putting your health (and sanity) first.

We Repeat What We Do Not Repair

When you start looking at your experiences through the eyes of someone who wants to repair their inner self, you gain some control over life again. When you start to gain control over your life, it will be very rare that you’d choose to go back to what’s unhealthily familiar. You’ll start to set boundaries and you’ll start to recognize that familiar negative trait in someone before you set forth out the door to meet them for the first time.

As you work on yourself, you’ll notice a shift in how you think and feel. You’ll have that little sign in your gut that something doesn’t feel right and you’ll learn to listen to it!

I’ve had private conversations with others about my various experiences throughout life. When someone tells me that they’re so sorry for what I went through and how pained I was during each experience, I typically reply with the following:

“I appreciate your concern for my well-being, however, this experience may have hurt me but it also woke me up to the reality of what I kept repeating. I had to be completely brought down to rock bottom otherwise I wouldn’t have learned the lesson that I was supposed to learn.” 

If you’re looking in the mirror day in and day out feeling like crap, then it’s time to make a decision.

Do you want to feel like crap every day?

Do you want to continue on this path of repeating what makes you feel like crap?


Do you want a life that feels amazing?

Do you want to look in that mirror and smile at your awesome self for making good choices?

Do you want to know that you’re doing everything possible to learn what you must learn to stop repeating unhealthy patterns?

If you answered yes to any of the last three questions then it’s time to make a change! Make a commitment to yourself that you will be the change you want to see. That you will be better than before. That you are worth more than you’ve told yourself in the past. It’s time to see yourself as the worthy individual that you are.

There’s one book that helped me move forward towards knowing my worth and knowing what my “best yes” is, and that book is The Best Yes. If you’re not into reading, then check out Les Brown’s YouTube channel, it’s free and he’s another part of what keeps me feeling confident in my greatness every day!

Only YOU Can Change YOU

In conclusion, the only person who knows where their weakness falls is you. Sit down and journal about the negative things that keep happening to you. Are they happening because you still have a lesson to learn? Perhaps that lesson is as simple as saying no to things that you know you don’t want to do.

Of course, going to work can’t be on that list but if your job sucks then use this journaling as a means to write down what you’d like to do for work. Make it a goal to learn something new so that you can say no to that job without risking financial upheaval.

There’s not one thing in your life that you can’t change if you do the work to journal about what you dislike, or what is upsetting you.

You can do it. You just need to be uncomfortably honest with yourself and start with one small change or step forward to commit to yourself that you will not keep repeating history. You will stand firm and learn the lesson that’s being shoved at you every time you turn around.

You will grow stronger and smarter. You will gain that confidence and clarity again, one tiny uncomfortable step at a time.


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