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Repetition Compulsion

Is it that life presents us with opportunities for lessons until we learn them? Or is it that we are stuck in a cycle because we set ourselves up for the same issues due to repetition compulsion? I didn’t even know what the term was until I started going down the rabbit hole of ACEs

(Adverse Childhood Experiences) but once I learned about it, it was another one of those moments of sudden insight. According to the American Psychological Association, it is the unconscious need to reenact early traumas in an attempt to overcome or master them. Such traumas are repeated in a new situation symbolic of the repressed prototype. This could be an addiction, relationship choices, or any OCD-type tendencies. Like when a friend always dates the same type of people that are no good for them.

In my case, I had to ask myself why I kept repeating some of the same cycles. What I found out was that I was doing it because the problem was so deeply rooted in my subconscious that while I felt it wasn’t the best for me, I continued because it felt familiar and oddly that was comforting. Do you see how detrimental deep-seeded traumas can be on the psyche of a person? 

Furthermore, repetition compulsion acts as a resistance to therapeutic change since the goal of therapy is not to repeat but to remember the trauma and to see its relation to present behavior. Also called the compulsion to repeat. As determined as I can be, I just wasn’t giving up on the problem and I kept trying to find ways to solve it, except I wasn’t aware that I was doing it therefore I didn’t have a different approach.

My usual thought process is that recognizing the problem in every issue that requires self-reflection is the hardest part. Understanding that I was the one setting myself up to experience similar issues was enough to spark change. 

As I’ve said before, the ACEs campaign started because of the realization that my Multiple Sclerosis was due in large part to my ACE score of 7. That said, I’m still going through the steps of processing my own traumas and while it can be difficult, the reward has been far greater. I feel calmer, problems are easier to deal with and they just don’t affect me as they did before – all great things and the reason I am still on the journey. At the moment, I’m reading Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza. However, my journey of learning about the subconscious mind really started in February of 2022. I’ve since read several books on the topic and I’ll also admit that a lot of the information I stumbled upon came to me through social media, I started following the right sources, and just like that a flurry of digestible information came my way. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’s TED talk was the catalyst for the campaign. You can read about that here.

I understand how vital it is to learn new ways to navigate life because I am doing it myself. I’ve suffered the consequences of a high ACE score and I also understand how healing emotionally can help with both body and mind. For me, the proof is in the pudding. When I started the campaign, I was walking with difficulty and using a cane. It’s been one year since I’ve started shedding my traumas and simultaneously I dropped the cane too! I’m not saying that exploring your traumas is a cure all. The realization for me was that stress was causing my MS to get worse and I was walking around as a ball of stress holding onto those traumas and once I worked through them, my stress levels lowered and my health improved. Let’s make this a year of healing because we all deserve to feel happier and healthier.

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