Are You Facing Repeating Patterns in Life?

Have you watched Groundhog Day before? I first learned about the movie after my post on inspirational movies. A few of you recommended it after the post went up, so I took up your recommendation–I watched this movie once a few years ago and a couple more times recently. And I’ve to say I found it really insightful. 🙂

Groundhog Day (a 1993 film) is about an arrogant TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) who’s sent to Punxsutawney to cover an event called Groundhog Day. At first everything seems normal as he travels there and covers the event. But then he wakes up the next day and realizes something is amiss: it’s yesterday all over again!! Not only is this crazy, but no one seems aware of this but him!

Bill Murray in Groundhog Day

Phil Connors (portrayed by Bill Murray) being the usual jerk he is in Groundhog Day (this is before he realizes he’s in a time loop)

(Massive spoilers ahead: if you are spoiler sensitive, go watch the movie before reading further!)

After Phil realizes that the day (Feb 2) is repeating itself, he becomes very confused. Then frustrated. At first, he acts even more crassly to others around him, if it was even possible. Then, he decides to use it for hedonistic purposes, from getting into a car chase with the police (LOL), to stealing, to bingeing, to smoking, to taking advantage of women (geez), but each time waking back up on Feb 2… again.

Phil Connors in Groundhog Day

Phil waking up to the same day again

As reality sets in, Phil becomes very depressed. He commits suicide and succeeds, at least until the time loop resets and he wakes up on Feb 2 again. No matter what he does, it seems that he can’t escape the time loop.

Groundhog Day - Suicide by toaster

Phil trying to kill himself with a toaster (he doesn’t succeed as the time loop resets everything the next day)

Dejected, Phil confides in someone during the time loop… and gets an aha (the person doesn’t remember it since Phil is the only one aware of the loop). Phil realizes that if he’s going to be stuck in this loop, why not make the best out of it? Since he’s going to be here for presumably eternity… why not use it to make a difference?

The next day, Phil wakes up, a changed man. He starts to genuinely care about others and adopts a keen curiosity for life. While at a diner, he hears a piano piece and mesmerized by it, takes up piano classes (he becomes a master pianist after an unspecified amount of time). He goes around the town helping people, and thanks to the time loop, knows exactly when and where to appear so as to save everyone. (It can be assumed that he trains himself with the necessary skills beforehand to assist them, such as chiropractic and the Heimlich maneuver.) He also learns that despite the time loop, sometimes there are things that can’t be changed.

Groundhog Day - Phil mesmerized by piano piece

Phil mesmerized by a piano piece (by Mozart) and decides to learn piano

As Phil turns into a man of goodness, altruism, and love (in turn radically changing the lives of people around him), the time loop… breaks. Suddenly, it’s no longer Feb 2. Suddenly, the day is no longer repeating itself. Suddenly, it’s now Feb 3… the next day.

Time Loop → Negative Life Patterns

While there are many messages to take away from the movie, I want to talk about the time loop specifically. While most people would take the time loop as just a plot device, it can be seen as something else. I see the time loop as a metaphor for negative patterns in life, whereby the very act of Phil going through the recurring days mirrors the recurring negative patterns that we face. These patterns can be anything, such as

  • Emotional eating
  • Weight loss, weight regain, and then weight loss again (Yo-yo dieting)
  • Procrastination on Q2 goals; always being “too busy” or having “no time”
  • Constant struggles with X, whereby X can be career, relationship, finding lovelooks, weight, etc.
  • Constant irritation with X, whereby X can be anything
  • Constant issues with bosses (be it same bosses or different ones)
  • Constant issues with colleagues
  • Financial struggles
  • Constant fear of something (such as fear of failure, fear of judgment, fear of people)
  • Always giving up before finishing something
  • Difficulty in achieving results in X goal
  • Constant struggles with friendships
  • Constantly attracting X type of people
  • On-again, off-again relationships
  • Constantly attracting X type of partners
  • Recurring conflicts with your partner
  • Recurring conflicts of the same topic with anyone
  • Addictions (smoking, drinking, porn, drugs, sex, mad partying, etc.)
  • Relapses in past addictions
  • Constant loneliness
  • Rebound relationships
  • Any other situation that seems to always repeat

While the patterns above vary in severity and nature (drugs is obviously more serious than general procrastination, while binge eating is dramatically different than rebounding), they all have a commonality: they have a tendency to recur in one’s life, be it in close frequency (such as daily) or wider intervals (perhaps once every few months). At times we may think that the pattern has ended / been broken, but it recurs after a period of calm (say, a relapse in smoking), hence proving us wrong.

Looping vine

Looping patterns in life

Do you know in Buddhism (and other religions like Hinduism), there is a belief in reincarnation? Reincarnation is where a soul (consciousness) is continually reborn on Earth, be it as an animal or a human, until certain lessons are learned and the soul reaches enlightenment. Rebirth then stops and the soul transcends to the next level.

Whether you believe in reincarnation or not is not the point and totally unimportant. The point here is that this concept can be applied to the negative patterns we experience in life. When you see negative patterns in your life and they’ve happened far too many times to be a coincidence (more than 2 times is probably not a coincidence in my book), you know something’s going on. Until you gain the lessons that these patterns are trying to tell you and also — very importantly — integrate them into your life, chances are these patterns will continue on, and on, and on… till you do.

Example #1: Constant struggles with weight and food

For example, from my teens to late 20s, I had an immense issue with food and my weight. I was never overweight but I had excess weight that I wanted to lose. I would exercise and eat healthily but would always be thwarted by over-eating episodes where I would either (1) binge eat after a period of healthy eating or (2) feel discouraged after going off-track for one time and then eat excessively for the next few days (before restarting the cycle of weight loss). Exercising was never a problem; I had no issues sticking to my exercise plans. Emotional eating was my disease.

From weight loss plans, to tracking sheets, to fasting, to mass exercising, to high-protein diet, to low-carb diet, to even beauty salon treatments (in my early 20s), I tried them all. For a long time, I fought the pattern of overeating and I fought it hard. There were even times when I reached my ideal weight, say through rigorous discipline or fasting. But I would rebound to my previous heavier weight after a while, driven by my eating issues. It seemed like I was cursed to struggle with weight and food my entire life. It seemed like I was cursed to be at a heavier weight for life.

After intense inner work (and I’ve shared my lessons in various articles and my emotional eating program), I eventually realized that it wasn’t overeating, food, excess weight or my body that were my enemies. My issue was simply that I was pushing myself, ignoring my needs, and not loving myself. That’s all. That was why I kept overeating. That was why I kept stuffing myself every now and then, ever so often. Food was my companion, my friend, where I wasn’t to myself. To eat was to comfort myself; to eat was also to punish myself, because I didn’t feel I deserved better.

Upset girl

Once I addressed this issue of non-self-love, my “negative” weight and eating patterns disappeared. From my highest weight of 65kg / 143lb, I naturally reached 58+kg / 128lb and have stayed this way since. (My meals in the recent 14-Day Healthy Living Challenge are similar to what I have today.) I didn’t have to push myself, fast, go on weight loss programs, or go for slimming treatments to achieve this; I just reached this weight naturally after naturally restoring my eating patterns.

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Example #2: Stuck in the cycle of debt

Lately I’ve been working with a client with debt issues. He’s a business owner and is good at making money but is constantly in debt. This has been hunting for the past 4 years of his life.

Man with credit card bills

Prior to our sessions, my client met a business coach who told him to charge more (money) and cut off low-return clients. However, it seemed that the root was deeper because… it almost seemed like my client was trying to be in debt. For example, he constantly overspent without regard for his reserves. Even if he did charge more and cut off low-return clients, my guess was he would earn more but also spend more and hence end up back in debt. In fact, it would be worse as he would be in even deeper debt than before (due to disproportionate spending)! My client thought so too.

Through our coaching, we discovered 2 root causes:

  1. My client wasn’t enjoying his daily work. While he is passionate about his business, he wasn’t happy with his daily routine. Every day he would be chasing deadlines, being in meetings, and coordinating, all of which he hates. Rather, the tasks he enjoys are creating new products, networking, pitching deals, and doing big picture planning which were only 30% of what he was doing. Since he was constantly doing things he hates, he would feel tired and pissed off, after which he would readily spend money to “reward” himself. With daily activities that weren’t intrinsically rewarding, it was little wonder that he kept overspending to fulfill his inner void.
  2. He did not have a real WHY to get out of debt. Whenever I asked my client why he wanted to get out of debt, he would say, “To achieve financial stability” or “To achieve financial freedom.” However, financial stability or freedom isn’t a real goal — it’s simply a means to an end. “What do you want to achieve financial stability/freedom for?” is the real question to answer. Without a clear WHY, it’s akin to not having fuel in a car — it’s not going to go distances. (Having a strong WHY is needed to realize any goal and is something I talk about in Anti-Procrastination Program.)

The solutions were then (1) to re-work his work routine such that he would focus on work that he enjoys while delegating other tasks to his employees, and (2) to identify his real WHY for earning money, which turned out to be to pursue his passion of helping entrepreneurs, to create impactful products, and to gain new experiences.

My client has since implemented these measures and is now more excited about his work than ever. This is a sharp contrast from before where he often felt very frustrated and lethargic. This motivation is crucial as it’ll help him to stay focused, be inspired to work, deliver his projects on time, and clinch new deals — all in all helping him to clear his debt in time.

Example #3: Toxic relationships

Woman alone by a lake

Last but not least, my other client H. Recently I conducted Soulmate Journey, my one-and-only course on attracting authentic love, and worked with an amazing group of participants. One of the many things we did was to analyze past relationships/attractions, identify commonalities, and draw lessons from there.

With my client H (who took up the 1-1 tier so we worked together through 1–1 calls as well), we found out that she’d constantly attract a recurring pattern of toxic men. In fact, this wasn’t just in love–looking at her life, H had actually been in the company of toxic people her whole life, be it family or friendships! While her family members constantly bullied her and made her feel unwanted (they even said to her before that they “didn’t want [her] around”), her “closest” friends regularly criticized her about her weight, looks, and so on.

Through the coaching, H realized that she attracted these toxic relationships as she didn’t love herself and subconsciously saw being bullied as a way of getting affection. This was a result of a very old childhood story. This was how her siblings would treat her; it was the only way she knew to get attention. As a result, H would allow people to bully her as a way of preserving the relationship. She also felt the need to please, a result of wanting to be nice to everyone. Yet, this was obviously making her miserable and destroying her happiness.

Interestingly, as H focuses on loving herself and being her 10/10 self, she has since

  1. Lost 4.1kg (9.0lb), a weight she has not been at since over 10 years ago,
  2. Drawn boundaries with her family when she previously didn’t do so,
  3. Distanced from her toxic friends, whereas before she would feel obligated to meet them,
  4. Joined meetups that align with her goals and made new, passionate friends (in her own words, she has “never met anyone as passionate about writing as [she is]”!!),
  5. Taken control of her debt situation, and
  6. Started pursuing her passions of traveling, writing, and photography. She has gone on at least 3 solo travel trips in the past 4 months, is now part of a writers’ group, has been writing short stories, and is building her photography portfolio now!

The funny thing is… we didn’t even set out to achieve any of the above when we started. We just focused on understanding the message from her subconsciousness. As it turned out, this message is to love herself, to respect herself, and to live her life without putting it on hold for others. Everything else kinda took care of itself after that.

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Reflecting on your patterns

To you:

  1. What negative pattern have you been facing?
  2. What messages do you think the universe (or your subconsciousness) is trying to send you with this pattern?
  3. What are you going to do about these messages?

Receive these messages, internalize them, and act on them. For Phil, it took him about 10,000 years before he internalized his message (to be a kinder, better human) and realized it fully, hence breaking the time loop. For you though, I’ve a feeling that you wouldn’t need this long. I’ve a feeling that now that you’ve read this post, you’ll know what to do, or at least start moving on a different path.

Check out these related posts:

Images: Groundhog DayLoops, Upset girl, Man with credit card billsWoman by lake