Repetition: Can You Spot The Differences?

“Sometimes I feel that what we do and what we say is just a repetition, that’s it’s all happened before,’ I said.
‘Déjà vu,’ he said, his voice flat.
‘No, not that, not identical – vaguely the same, like we’re trapped in a pattern or an idea that we can’t give up, that leads us by the nose…”

― Siri Hustvedt, The Blindfold

I am noticing there’s quite some repetition in my life at the moment.


Patterns I thought I had escaped from, have returned as if they’d been lurking around the corner all along. People who had left my life, or the area where I live, have returned without warning. Even the tourists are coming back in waves that I recognize from last year.


Me, I have taken a seat in the midst of all this, and am still wondering how I should take it.


Whether it’s from experience or because society/people say so, repetition feels like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, if we repeat something often – as a practice – we will get better at it. That’s why (one of the reasons) I meditate every morning. It’s why I run the same track, several times a week, and make it a longer run when I feel I’ve practiced the distance enough. This is where repetition induces progress. On the other hand, repetition can feel like nothing has changed at all. When we’re trying to break a habit, succeed for a while only to fall back into it, it feels as if we’re back to square one. This is where repetition adds to frustration.


What next?


Well, I don’t know. Repetition doesn’t guarantee a predictable future – never mind how much it makes us feel stuck at times.


What I’ve decided to do, though – thanks to the practice of writing down this experience – is to look for the differences. To recognize the patterns, the repetitions, and to regard them as versions of “Can you spot the [add number] differences in this picture?”.


No matter how similar the situation seems to me, I am not the same person as I used to be. On a physical level, my cells have renewed themselves; on a mental level my thoughts have changed. As a result, my perception of a repetition will be different. Which is where it becomes most interesting for me, personally: where do I act/react differently; where do I behave the same? How do I look at this person/situation now – with the knowledge and life lessons I’ve learned since the last time we met/this occurred?


Repetition isn’t about stuckness, it’s about practice. What I didn’t get right last time, I can do better this time. And if I don’t manage this time, there’s probably going to be a next time…






I started blogging mainly because of my interest in organizational cultures and (online) communications. Over the years it has become my passion to help professionals and entrepreneurs build their dreams, accelerate their results, and create richer, more miraculous lives.
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