Why do we repeat patterns?

Table of contents:

Why do we repeat patterns?
Why do we repeat patterns?

What is repeated enough takes hold

First of all, we need to understand what we mean by the term “Patterns”. A pattern is, according to Wikipedia's definition: “… that series of constant variables, identifiable within a larger set of data. These elements repeat in a predictable way."


This is a non-ideal concept when talking about Psychology because it alludes too much to a series in which we would all be equal. Far from being the case, we know that when working with human beings the most important thing is to be able to consider the individuality of each one, what differentiates them from others. This is very important because for a long time, and still today, an effort to classify and categorize people was and is abused.

However, we cannot deny that we share certain schemas and characteristics collectively. That which defines us as part of the human species. Jung called these shared categories Archetypes.

Similarly, throughout personal life, we tend to repeat behaviors and thought patterns. Freud referred extensively to Repetition, as that unconscious thing that insists and that, as the term itself indicates, repeats itself over and over again until something in that mechanism can be intervened. Analysis by word offered the necessary conditions to raise awareness of certainaspects and prevent them from continuing to repeat themselves invariably. A certain nucleus, however, Freud would say, cannot be made aware and will remain in the Unconscious, attracting contents to it.

By making this brief tour we can finally delve into the question that motivates this article.

As we develop, we repeat behaviors that are necessary for us to survive. Many of them are inherited and are linked to the evolution of the species. Others refer to personal life, and are formed based on interaction with the environment.

Those behaviors, thoughts and emotions that are installed and sustained for a period of time, tend to take hold, and later, to be repeated in future situations

Ease the way

The psyche facilitates in a certain sense its functioning by automating certain daily responses. Thus, it takes the work out of thinking, deciding and evaluating every detail on a day-to-day basis. If this were not the case, everything would take a lot of time and we would have to invest large amounts of energy to solve daily situations. For this reason, there are certain actions that we can perform “automatically”, such as making the daily commute to work, for example. What we repeat enough, is strengthened, becomes automated.

Responses and defense modes

The same can happen with certain defensive and even symptomatic responses. The evasion or flight response, for example, perhaps necessary in childhood againstDistressing or unpleasant situations can continue to be repeated in adult life, even in the face of triggers that could be de alt with differently in this new stage of life. We repeat many times even what hurts us, but in many cases because that answer was the only one possible at a particular moment in life, or there were no other resources to answer at that time.

Therefore, many times in a therapy, the identification of these positions that are repeated implies the recognition of something that was consolidated there initially for a reason. Therapeutic work, in the best of cases, can collaborate so that these very automatic responses can be opened and questioned, making something of choice and consciousness intervene.

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