Are You Facing Repeating Patterns in Life?

Have you watched Groundhog Day before? Groundhog Day is about an arrogant TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) who’s sent to cover an event called Groundhog Day.

At first everything seems normal as he travels to the place and covers the event. But then he wakes up the next day and realizes something is amiss: it’s yesterday all over again!! The worse part is, no one seems to notice this but him! (Note: Massive spoilers ahead)

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)

After Phil realizes that the day (Feb 2) is repeating itself, he becomes very confused. Then frustrated.

At first, he acts even more rudely to those around him. Then, he decides to have fun with it, from getting into a car chase with the police, to stealing, to taking advantage of women (geez), but each time waking up on the same day 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, but fails since the time loop resets and he wakes up on Feb 2 again. No matter what he does, he can’t escape the time loop.

Dejected, Phil confides in someone… and gets an aha. He 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 this 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 takes up piano classes. He goes around the town helping people, and thanks to the time loop, knows exactly when and where to appear to save everyone. 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, such as people dying.

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 person of goodness (in turn radically changing the lives of people around him), the time loop… breaks. Suddenly, it’s no longer Feb 2. The day is no longer repeating itself. It’s now Feb 3… a new day.

Negative Loops in Our Life

While there are many messages to take away, I want to talk about the time loop specifically. While the time look can be seen as a plot device, I see the time loop as a metaphor for negative life patterns, where Phil’s time loop mirrors negative patterns in our life. These patterns can be anything, such as

  • Procrastination on our goals
  • Constant struggles with career, relationship, finances, weight, etc.
  • Issues with co-workers or bosses
  • Irritation with X, whereby X can be anything
  • Negative friendships
  • Conflicts in your relationship
  • Addictions (smoking, drinking, porn, drugs, emotional eating, etc.)
  • Rebound relationships
  • Any repeating problem

While these patterns vary in severity (drugs is obviously more serious than procrastination), they all have a commonality: they tend to recur, be it daily or every few months. At times we may think that the problem is gone, but it repeats after some time, hence making it a pattern.

Looping vine

(Image: tanakawho)

Do you know in Buddhism, there is a belief in reincarnation? Reincarnation is where a soul (consciousness) is continually reborn, 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. The point is that this concept can be applied to our negative patterns. When you see negative patterns in your life and they have happened far too many times to be a coincidence (more than 2 times is not a coincidence in my book), you know something’s going on. The pattern will keep repeating until you learn the life lesson associated with it, which breaks the loop.

1) Constant struggles with food/weight

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 issue.

From weight loss plans to tracking sheets to fasting to mass exercising to different diets, I tried them all. For a long time, I fought the pattern of overeating and I fought it hard. There were times when I reached my ideal weight, say through rigorous discipline or fasting. But I would rebound to my previous weight after a while, driven by my eating issues. It seemed like I was cursed to struggle with weight and food my entire life, and to be stuck at a heavier weight.

After intense inner work, I realized that my enemies were not overeating, food, excess weight or my body. My issue was simply that I was pushing myself, ignoring my needs, and not loving myself. That was why I kept overeating. Food was my companion 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.

Once I addressed this issue, my negative eating patterns disappeared. From my highest weight of 65kg (143lb), I naturally reached 58+kg (128lb) and have stayed this way since. 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 restoring my eating patterns.

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2) Stuck in debt

Lately I’ve been working with a client with debt issues. He is a successful business owner but is constantly in debt. He has been in debt for the past 10 years of his life.

Prior to our sessions, my client met a business coach who told him to charge more and cut off low-return clients. This was a logical business step. However, I felt the problem here was linked to an emotional root, 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.

Through our sessions, we discovered 2 root causes:

  1. He wasn’t enjoying his daily work. While he is passionate about his business, he wasn’t enjoying his daily work. Every day he would be chasing deadlines, being in meetings, and coordinating, which he hates. The tasks he enjoys are creating new products, networking, pitching deals, and doing long-term planning. These made up only 30% of his days. Since he was doing things he hates, he would feel drained, after which he readily spent money to “reward” himself. Since his daily routine were not intrinsically rewarding, he would overspend 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 logically say, “To achieve financial stability/freedom.” However, financial stability/freedom isn’t a real goal — it’s a means to an end. “Exactly why do you want to achieve financial stability/freedom?” is the real question to answer. Without a clear WHY, you cannot get far in your goal. (Having a strong WHY is part of any strong goal and I talk about this in the Anti-Procrastination Program.)

The solutions were then (1) to create an exciting work routine that energizes him, and (2) to identify his real WHY to break out of debt. He discovered his WHY is to grow as a human being and create impactful products to help entrepreneurs. Being in debt wouldn’t let him achieve his purpose fully, while breaking out of it would give him full freedom to live true to his purpose.

Upon addressing these issues, my client is now naturally excited about his work. This is a sharp contrast from before where he was very frustrated and lethargic, and would overspend on vacations, trips, and expensive leisure activities to be happy. Instead of spending to fill his unhappiness, he is now intrinsically happy — which means no more overspending to get momentary gratification, and slowly clearing his debt each month.

3) Toxic relationships

Last but not least, my client H. Recently I conducted Soulmate Journey, my course on finding love. One of the many things I did with my participants was to analyze past relationships, identify commonalities, and draw lessons from there.

With my client H who signed up for 1-1 coaching as well, we found out that she had a pattern of attracting toxic men. In fact, 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 friendships! While her family members constantly bullied her and made her feel unwanted (they even said that they “didn’t want [her] around”), her “friends” regularly criticized her about her weight, looks, and so on.

Through our coaching, H realized that she attracted these toxic relationships as she didn’t love herself. She subconsciously saw being bullied as a way of getting affection. This came from a very old childhood story. This was how her siblings would treat her; it was the only way she knew to get attention. Hence, H would tolerate such behavior to preserve the relationship. She also felt the need to please to be nice to everyone. But this made her very miserable.

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 herself from toxic friends, when she would feel obligated to meet them in the past,
  4. Joined meetups and made new friends (in her 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 the above when we started. We just focused on understanding the message from her subconsciousness. This message is to love and 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 them?

Receive these messages, internalize them, and act on them. For Phil in Groundhog Day, it took him about 10,000 years before he internalized his message to be a kinder, better human and actualized it, hence breaking the time loop. For you though, I doubt you won’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. 🙂

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