Why Do I Keep Making The Same Mistakes? Repetitive Patterns And Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Many people who come to see me for therapy find themselves making the same poor choices and the same mistakes again and again, much to their own astonishment and disappointment. This may involve choosing the same unsuitable relationship partners, hiring the same wrong staff, continually feeling exploited in .friendships, and many other repetitive situations. They often make these mistakes despite their own best and noble intentions that this time it will be different. Unfortunately, the same thing happens again and they are again left wondering what went wrong. Sometimes they may feel that they are doomed to keep riding the same old merry-go-round and feeling disappointed and depressed with the same old results over and over. Sigmund Freud called this the repetition compulsion and it is an unconscious process that generally has its roots in our early childhood experiences. This is because we are often drawn back to situations that feel familiar, even if they feel bad. Sometimes having things turn out differently can feel very uncomfortable and even frightening. This is because change and getting something different produces feelings of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. It is almost as if something inside of us says to us "Hey, if it's different it might be worse, and that's a terrifying prospect, I think we will just go with what we know, even if it is lousy. Why risk making things even worse?". Maybe part of us inside says "We don't deserve better than this", and this can keep the repetitive pattern going as well. Like I said, we do not do or say this to ourselves intentionally or even consciously. When we find this happening again and again, it can be useful to notice the patterns and the feelings that accompany these patterns.  this can give clues as to what is going on. Many times psychotherapy can be helpful in identifying these problems and changing the patterns so that you can start to get something better for yourself. It is often hard work, but ultimately worth it, because you can then start to get what you really want instead. In the video below, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Dr Chris Heath discusses the repetition compulsion.