Humans are flawed creatures and often make mistakes. As they say ‘to err is human’. But, humans are also capable of learning and changing their behavior in response to experience. So, once a mistake is recognized we should be able to make adjustments so that we don’t repeat the mistake when the same situation arises again in the future.
So, why is it that history seems to repeat itself? Why is it that we make the same mistakes over and over and over again? Why do we not learn from these mistakes and change?
The primary reason for repeating errors is that we do not recognize the true cause of the mistake. We attribute it to something outside of ourselves and reason that when it goes away the mistake will not reoccur. Hence, an abused spouse continues to stay in the relationship because they believe that their partner will change. An employee believes that a new job will result in the long sought promotion. An investor believes that bad luck and outside macroeconomic forces are the causes of their repeated losses. A student believes that if the professors were fair their grades would be better.
We continue to make mistakes because we don’t look at ourselves accurately. The solution to most repetitive mistakes resides within the individual not outside. The abuse is allowed to continue because the individual has low self-worth and fears leaving the relationship. It’s the self-worth that needs to be changed not the abusive spouse. The promotion is not forthcoming because the individual does not know how to truly listen to others. It’s the listening skills that need to be fixed, not the employer. The investments are not working out because the individual is responding to the ups and downs of the market with greed and fear. It’s the individual’s response to emotions that need changing, not market forces. The grades are low because the student has difficulty paying attention. It’s the attentional process that need strengthening, not the professors’ fairness.
It’s rather simple in that the solution is to be found inside not outside. The failure to see this results in seeking solution outside, resulting in repeating the same mistakes over again.
Contemplative practice is the medicine that can cure the problem. It focuses the individual’s attention inside making the individual become more sensitive to their own psychological and emotional state. Through practice the abused spouse can come to see the underlying self-worth issue, the employee learns to listen deeply, the investor gains emotion regulation, the student improves his/her attentional abilities.
Engage in contemplative practice with patience, dedication, and energy targeted at what’s inside, not outside. Over time this practice will allow you to truly understand the source of the problem and to stop repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
Contemplative practice can stop history repeating itself!