How Can We Identify Repetitive Patterns And Get Out Of Them?

Last updated by Rosie Harlow

For a long time, I had the feeling that I was repeating the same mistakes. For example, on more than one occasion, I missed out on a career opportunity. All because I was convinced I was useless… Unfortunately, I bet I’m not the only one to have observed this kind of repetitive pattern. This kind of cycle is vicious, so how do you identify it and get out of it? Now that I’ve learned how to work on it, I’ll explain.

How Can We Identify Repetitive Patterns And Get Out Of Them?

What is a repetitive pattern?

It’s quite simple, a repetitive pattern is when you have behaviors, emotions, or even thoughts that are repeated regularly. For me, for example, I was a victim of imposter syndrome for a long time 😅. Because of this, I got caught up in self-sabotage. However, the repetitive pattern isn’t limited to that, it can also be found in love (why do I always get into a relationship with a narcissistic pervert?), at work (why do I always put off the same task endlessly?), at home (why do I want to avoid all meals with my loved ones?), etc.


It’s a key concept in psychology for understanding ourselves better. In fact, one of the founding fathers of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Aaron Beck, who I often talk to you about, explains that because of these cognitive distortions, we often interpret things in a biased way.

How to identify repetitive patterns?

You need to bear in mind that not all repetitive patterns are negative 🧐. You can have habits that are good for you, and there’s nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if you’re experiencing situations that cause you to feel unwell and that are destructive, it’s important to spot them. I won’t hide the fact that it’s a long process, but here are a few tips to get you started, according to psychologists 👇:

1. Take a step back

We need to learn to look at our lives from an objective point of view 👀. Yes, I know, that’s easier said than done. We need to put ourselves in “we’re watching the film of our life” mode, as an outside spectator. So we need to take stock: what behaviors, thoughts, and feelings do we feel like we’re repeating endlessly?

2. Look for common themes

This time we go into detective mode. Are there common themes in situations where we find ourselves often 🤔? For example, do we regularly feel neglected in a relationship? Is there a professional task that we put off every time?

3. Examine your reactions

Our emotions are clearly beacons, like lighthouses in the night 🕯️. They make it easier to identify our repetitive patterns. In particular, if we have a very strong emotion in a particular situation, such as anger, fear, etc., this is a big clue about something that doesn’t suit us and that we experience regularly.

4. Think again about past experiences/childhood

Everything has its roots in our youth. Do we recognize certain mechanisms in our parents? Did we have any significant childhood experiences? By reflecting on these experiences, we can begin to identify the behaviors that we’ve inherited from our parents or that have been shaped by our upbringing.

5. Talk to your close ones

It’s like asking our friends and family to hold up a mirror. Sometimes others can see things about us that we don’t notice. By asking our close ones what they’ve noticed about our behavior, we can gain valuable insights that can help us spot the things we repeat. However, make sure you choose the right people, so you don’t end up with malicious and inappropriate comments 😅!

👋 An article to help you with this introspection: How to tackle limiting beliefs

Why do I keep repeating the same pattern?

In order to completely break free from this defense mechanism, we also need to understand where it comes from. In fact, if we tend to repeat the same things and/or encounter the same situations, it’s because we have “deeply rooted beliefs about ourselves and the world”, to quote Aaron Beck.

A model from childhood

And guess where these beliefs come from? From our childhood, bingo! I know that in psychology, we relate a lot of things to this period, but at the same time, these are our foundations and the way we learn to build ourselves! In fact, the English psychiatrist John Bowlby explains repetitive patterns through the theory of attachment. For him, the way we become attached to our parents influences the way we behave throughout our lives.

👉 For example, if our parents were distant and minimized our emotions, we will tend to develop an avoidant attachment.

Worth noting

If we repeat the same patterns, it’s also because we had basic needs that weren’t met during our childhood, according to psychologist Jeffrey Young.

Breaking out of the mold

It’s very difficult to get rid of our limiting beliefs. I can testify to this because even though I’m learning to deconstruct my way of thinking, sometimes the natural thing comes back at full tilt and I don’t dare take the plunge, because of absurd fears 😵. I’ve been going to therapy for several years now, not least to work on this, and it’s the best advice I can give. To get out of the matrix (no, I haven’t watched The Matrix recently 😬), the best thing is to have psychological support. It’s all very simple, but therapy has methods that allow you to do some real work, particularly CBT, which I mentioned earlier.

Getting rid of repetitive patterns isn’t easy, but it’s often necessary if you want to achieve true fulfillment. Even if the path is difficult, it’s worth the effort if you want to be the master of your actions rather than a slave to your demons 😈.

Editor’s note: Essential work on yourself

Understanding and breaking our repetitive patterns takes time and patience to work on yourself, but it’s essential for our personal development. If you recognize yourself in this article, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with one of our psychologists. They’re here to help you unravel these patterns and guide you toward a freer, more fulfilled life. Take the first step towards change today.

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!

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Article presented by Rosie Harlow

Writing has always been a form of therapy for me. For as long as I can remember, I have always used paper as a punching bag. Get to know me, I am Rosie Harlow.

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  6. White FlagDido
  7. Lay Me DownSam Smith
  8. Nine Million BicyclesKatie Melua
  9. Put Your Records OnCorinne Bailey Rae
  10. Summertime SadnessLana Del Rey
  11. Imagine - Remastered 2010John Lennon
  12. Shake It OutFlorence + The Machine
  13. Space Oddity - Love You Til Tuesday versionDavid Bowie
  14. What A Wonderful WorldLouis Armstrong
  15. With Or Without YouU2
  16. HelloAdele
  17. Don't Stop Me NowQueen
  18. Skinny LoveBirdy
  19. WingsBirdy
  20. Californian SoilLondon Grammar

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