Recycling took on a new meaning for me recently. I had the pleasure of witnessing my nephew graduate from bootcamp and become a soldier in the US Army. He had not seen family or friends for ten weeks and was eager to share his experiences and the challenges that he overcame. However, everyone who started with him was not graduating with him. I asked him what happened to those that did not meet all of the requirements. He said they were recycled. For those recruits, they would repeat basic training again in hopes of graduating with the next group.
I thought about that and summed it up as they will repeat the lessons until they have proved mastery of them. The same is true of us. We repeat life experiences until we understand and master what that experience has to teach us. What is your reoccurring experience? Are you the friend or family member who is always late or short on money? Are you the one who everyone expects to solve their problems? Do your relationships tend to end the same way? Do the same types of people show up in your life over and over again? Are your feelings often hurt because those around you seem to take advantage of you? Regardless of the situation, the common denominator is you. You are the constant in that experience, and it has something to teach you.
It can be easy to see the fault of the other person especially if he or she is somehow treating you badly, but if that scenario has played out in your life more than once, it is time for introspection. It is time to go inward and ask yourself some hard questions in hopes of learning how you are contributing to the situation, making the necessary adjustments from what you learn, and ending the recycling process. Be honest with yourself and see what these questions reveal about your:
- Do I have bad habits that are contributing to my situation?
- Do I procrastinate?
- Do I wait until the last minute to head out the door?
- Do I squander my preparation time and am consistently starting a project when the deadline is looming?
- Am I impulsive in my spending?
- Is my budget quickly forgotten or ignored if I see something that I really want?
- Do I often borrow from friends, family or use payday or title loans?
- Have I given myself permission to make bad choices with my money because deep down I know that there is someone who will give me money?
- Am I firm in my responses or easily swayed?
- In order for others to respect what we say, we must stick to the response.
- Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no. Otherwise, it’s clear that a little bit of prodding will change your mind.
- Do I procrastinate?
- Do I hear myself repeating the same excuses over and over again?
- Do I follow through on my commitments?
- Do I believe that I deserve better treatment?
- Has my history taught me that I am less than?
- Has past trauma molded me to accept being treated poorly?
- What about me or my interactions with this person makes them feel OK in treating me this way?
- Have I communicated my feelings about their behavior?
- Have I set clear boundaries so that they know that they are crossing a line?
- Have my reactions taught them that it is OK to behave this way?
- Do I excuse the behavior?
- Do I laugh it off?
- Do I act as if it did not happen?
- What am I afraid of?
- Do I fear that the relationship will end if I articulate my feelings?
- Am I afraid of the potential confrontation?
- Have previous attempts to stand up for myself or express my feelings ended badly?
Introspection is important and will teach us so much if we are brave enough to honestly walk through it. These questions and others like them will help us begin the journey and realize when we are caught in a loop cycling through the same life experiences. My sincere hope for each of us is that we will do the work to show up as our best selves and build relationships where we are treated with respect. Stay in tune with yourself and your experiences. Don’t get stuck on repeat. This is the one recycling program that we want to bring to an end. In doing so, our lives and relationships will be richer.