In one way or another, we have all been tattooed by the experiences of our formative years. If you have evolved to the level of assessing relationship patterns in your life, self-congratulatory praise is due. These influential patterns that affect our personal journey are extremely covert. Quiet reflection is absolutely necessary to face, and unravel their control over our lives. It does not require a thousand years of wandering in the desert. Though it does take courage to look at your life, and say “How did I get here?” and “What have I done?” These important questions are just the beginning of the process that is the quest for truth, and inner peace.
The Relationship Continuum
Anxieties we experience in the past don’t leave us. They manifest in other sub-conscious ways. A sense of continuum is reflected in Mandarin-Chinese grammar, where verbs don’t change regardless of tense; past, present or future. Likewise, relationship patterns repeat throughout our lives. How we relate, or don’t relate to a mother or father becomes how we relate to a husband, wife, child, or co-worker. In assessing these relationship patterns, the objective is not so much to look at the subjects in our lives as much as it is our relationship to the subjects. This is where patterns can be found, in what one seeks out, or requires from a relationship.
Repetition Compulsion was a term used by Austrian Neurologist, Sigmund Freud to describe humans’ tendencies to repeat situations, and patterns of behavior that were difficult, and stressful in earlier life. Traumatic events are sub-consciously re-enacted, or a person behaves in ways that engender specific responses from others that are consistent with past experiences in interpersonal relationships. Freud based the concept of Repetition Compulsion on several behavioral observations. One of these observations was of a child, who after throwing his favorite toy from his crib, becomes upset at the loss, reels the toy back, and repeats the process. Correspondingly, Freud theorized that the child was attempting to master the sensation of loss in allowing his mother to leave without protesting.
Furthermore, there is an underlying duality that complicates these experiences. The repeated behavior is both a source of joy, and a source of pain. The pain lies in the repetition, the joy is taken from the sense of conquering the initial defeat of the experience. Essentially all unresolved conflict is repeated until a real solution is found. The solution lies in ceasing to engage in situations and behaviors that lead to that repetition.
Wikipedia. “Repetition Compulsion”. [https:en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repetition_compulsion#/editor/2]; [07/15/2017].