People tell me that they find themselves in situations that seem familiar to them, that they have experienced before. Or they have the feeling that they are repeating the same experiences over and over again; like a trap door that opens and shuts, preventing them from escaping and preventing peace and happiness in life.

Relationship Traps

A young woman falls in love again and again with men who are not serious about her. Each rejection hurts, yet she seeks out the same type of man in the next relationship. A man is overlooked for promotions at work, leaving him feeling there is something wrong with him. Each recurrence proves he is not worthy. Have you had that feeling that you’re repeating some mistake in your life? Have you experienced the question, “How can this be happening again?” That’s a relationship pattern trap. You experienced the first trap in your life during your childhood, with your parents. This happened at a time when your conscious mind wasn’t yet developed. This means that these experiences are part of your subconscious mind. Everyone has faults, including parents. Like almost every one of us, parents don’t know the causes and effects of these faults.

The trap is the double message you received from your parents.

Parents want their children to have a better life than they had. A mother wishes, for example, that her daughter will one day have a happier marriage than she has. However, at the same time, unconsciously, she knows that she couldn’t stand it if her child were happier in marriage than she is. The mother would then see what she herself had missed and it would hurt her too much, although she also wishes for a better life for her daughter. This is a double message to the child: the wish for a better life for the child AND the wish to avoid seeing better results in the child because of hurt. The daughter, after growing up, tries to fulfill the expectations of her mother and be happier but will attract the wrong man for a better marriage, so as to not hurt or outshine her mother.

Identify and be freed from the double messages.

To get out of the trap of the relationship patterns, you need to be aware of the double messages you received from your parents. Start this process by remembering the suffering and injustices you heard them mention while growing up.

What did your parents tell you about the world and their interpretation of it?
Did they complain about each other?
Did they criticize people at work or the company, co-workers, or bosses?
If they ran a business, did they complain about employees or customers?
Were they upset about politics, politicians, or government?
What was their opinion about money, who had it, and who didn’t?
What was their opinion about their larger family?

The complaints and negativity you heard points to their own hurts and disappointments. Do you see how this complaining and criticism could create a double message? I want you to have a stable job because I hated running a business that struggled. You need a steady paycheck.”

But what if you’re a better business person than your parents? What if you’re an instinctive entrepreneur? Having a steady paycheck may not be fulfilling at all, but you may resist showing your parents up by running multiple, successful businesses and, instead, just settle for a 9-5 job that you hate.

Take time to figure out what double messages you heard.

Then you’ll be able to see the trap. With your new awareness, this is the moment when you can make new choices. How will you apply this exercise this week? What double messages did you uncover?