Why Do We Repeat Our Mistakes?


The lives of most people are nothing but a series of repetitive patterns. We wake up in the morning, get ready in the same pattern, go to office in the same pattern, eat food in the same way, and every decision we take is based on the same ideas, in a pattern. Even responses to people and life situations are rarely different; people react in a predetermined manner when they meet a friend or colleague. In some situations, this causes a lot of damage because people even repeat the same mistakes again and again without being able to understand why that happens. In certain challenging situations, there is a lack of ease and the person feels powerless unable to come up with intelligent solutions at that moment.

Even though man thinks he is the one in control of his life, unless he infuses awareness into his engraved memories, it is the patterns that actually run each person’s life. Not surprisingly, very often people find that their lives look like complete chaos inspite of all their efforts to put everything in order.

We need to pause and think about what these patterns are, and why they exist in the lives of people, controlling their every action. When memories of certain unpleasant incidents are etched inside a person, they begin to run the person’s life. These engraved memories are the “patterns” that take control of the person’s mind. Every thought or action becomes controlled by the impact of these memories. For example, a child who was laughed at when performing on stage will grow up to be an adult who is always afraid of being ridiculed in public. Every time he has to go up in public, the fear of being ridiculed will present itself either subtly or vividly, making him wary or being in the spotlight. He may not be aware that he experiences the fear because of the childhood incident, but that is the actual reason – the pattern – which is the root cause of his fear.

There are three ways that infuse life into an engraved memory. The first is when the memory is acted upon. When a person acts on the memory of something, he begins to give life to that memory, without being able to perceive the situation as it is happening. Every action that he carries out will have its roots in the memory of a previous incident and not in the present situation. It is for this reason that the same kind of responses happen again and again, and the same mistakes are repeated.

Another instance that can bring an engraved memory to life when someone encounters a person or situation that awakens any negative emotion like anger, lust or jealousy in him or her. When there are such emotions, even if they are not acted upon, just being in the breathing space of that individual, or in that situation, can infuse life into the engraved memory. The final instance is that of leaving the physical body, or death. When a person encounters death, all his engraved memories are awakened and re-lived.

Break Free of Patterns!

This vicious circle of getting caught in a pattern can be broken by disassociating oneself from the engraved memory. Once someone understands that his response is coming from some engraved memory, he can be aware of his response the next time a similar situation presents itself, and instead of acting in the routine way he can respond differently, consciously disassociating himself from the engraved memory. This makes the memory lose its power over the person. Awareness breaks the vicious circle of repetitive mistakes and creates the space for transformation.

Taken from the collected talks of Nithyananda on the Bhagavad Gita on the subject of “patterns”,  delivered to a live audience in the year 2011 in the Bidadi Ashram, Bangalore