Repeating patterns doesn’t mean you’ve failed

Written December 2021


I’ve been learning the same set of lessons over and over again. I’ve felt frustrated. I’ve felt like a failure because of it. Today, I’ve reached the point where I realise that I will always have these same things come up.


In realising I will never be free of them – I am free. I have released the idea that ridding myself of these experiences is possible, and it feels SO freeing to stop chasing that.


I’ve believed that one day I will be healed enough. I’ve believed that if I work hard enough, they will eventually go, never to return. Today I saw that this type of thinking is rooted in the pattern itself; the idea that one day I will be perfect.


I’m learning to accept that I’m human.


I’ve noticed that some of the online spaces I’ve been hanging out in and a lot of the world I’ve immersed myself in holds a common narrative: that we can heal, that we can be enlightened, that we can achieve peace on earth.


Because of this, I’ve been imagining a version of me that is fully healed (read: never suffers), that has transcended the ego completely (and who is wrong or bad if any egoic behaviours or thoughts come in), and who lives in a land where everything is beautiful, easy and peaceful (with absolutely no contrast or suffering). The thoughts that drove me have been – if I can just make it through *this thing here* then I can have that heavenly experience over there. But there was always another *thing* to make it through, another thing to heal, another book to read. I believe it’s called ‘a dangling carrot’.


I knew on an intellectual level that perhaps this was the stuff of fairy tales. I suspected that such a place and way of being was impossible as a human, but I pushed those thoughts aside.  I decided that those thoughts were self-sabotage, and I kept striving anyway, hoping I would eventually make it to the promised land. I kept myself trapped.


I’ve read hundreds of books and articles and Instagram posts all with the same core message: ‘heaven is available here on earth’.  Whilst the words and processes are different, the message that if ‘I just do this thing then I’ll be able to reach a point where suffering no longer exists’ is the same. And what that’s meant for me is a whole host of fear, shame, guilt, and pain when the inevitable human suffering cycles around again and I’m back learning the same lessons.


The lessons I personally learn over and over are:


  • To release the need to try to control, fix, micromanage or manipulate outcomes

  • To trust the flow of life

  • To know that I am not responsible for everything and everyone, and to release the weight and pressure of that

  • That there is hope, even when things feel hopeless

  • That relaxing, resting, slowing down, allowing, and surrender are all essential states that deliver me into outcomes, and to release the urgency I feel.


I’m releasing the idea that there will come a time when situations and circumstances that trigger these behaviours and lessons will cease to exist. I don’t believe heaven exists on earth…and that doesn’t mean I’m a negative person or that I just don’t get it…it means I’m accepting of myself on a new level. What if it’s completely normal, human, and entirely okay that these lessons come up again and again? What if it doesn’t mean I’ve failed, or that I didn’t heal it properly last time? What if it doesn’t mean anything except that I’m a human being? From that place I have freedom. From that place I have acceptance. From that place I get to rest and allow and trust.


I see today (and I know I’ll likely forget this again) that being human includes times of suffering…and that’s okay.  It’s only when I resist the suffering, make it wrong, bad, or a sign of some inherent personal failure that it’s not okay. When I can meet myself in these moments without the extra pain of blame, guilt, or failure – then all that exists is a moment in time where I can release the need to try to control. A moment where I can listen to what my body, mind, and soul need, without judging the answer. A moment where I can give myself whatever permission I need.  Then I’m truly allowing myself to experience the fullness of what it means to be human, pain, suffering, and tears included. It doesn’t mean I’m not perfect, it just means I had the definition of perfect wrong in the first place.


We cannot hold a vision of some future state of ease, peace, love, and beauty where nothing else exists without also cutting off our humanity. If we hold that vision as our vision of success then we have already failed. We’ve failed to see the truth. We’ve failed to accept and love our totality. We’ve failed to allow ourselves to be as and what we are.


It doesn’t mean we must wallow in these times. It doesn’t mean life cannot be filled with beautiful moments, laughter, love and abundance. It doesn’t mean we cannot desire things. It just means that when life-lifes and when humanness-humans we don’t make it even worse by labelling ourselves as failures or feeling guilty because we ‘obviously haven’t worked hard enough on our personal or spiritual development’.


In the online personal development and spiritual spaces there are a lot of big promises being made. Promises of instant healing, of never again feeling a certain way, promises of unending abundance, happiness, and peace. I will not make promises like this. I cannot say that anything I have to share with you will mean that you will heal and never again feel pain or suffering. I cannot say that you will never fall back into patterns. I cannot promise you these things, because I would be promising you that I have a way that means you’ll no longer be a human living on earth.

And that would be denying your incredible, flawed, beautiful wholeness.