LEARNING & GROWING
Evolve or Repeat
JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group
March 3, 2022
There’s an unattributed quote that goes, “Each day we are presented with two choices: Evolve or repeat.” Do we continue to do things the way we always have? Or do we admit there’s more to learn? Do we listen to what others tell us? Or do we immediately react with our inherent defense mechanisms? After all, those defense mechanisms have gotten us this far. Could they be so bad if they helped us survive? I think the answers to those questions push us onto one path or the other: evolve or repeat.
The definition of repeat is to do (something) again, either once or a number of times. Our brains love to repeat. They love to fire synapses the same way each time they come across a known event. Sometimes these synapses keep us safe. But other times they merely keep us alive, suffering the same repeated patterns of behavior until a break can be made and an important lesson learned.
Have you ever had a friend in a relationship with an adulterer? I have. It happens in a cycle. At first, she’ll call me and complain about her husband seeming distant. Then she’ll complain about him not coming home at a regular time. She senses the recurrent pattern of his behavior. Then the cheating is uncovered. He promises to change. She believes him and takes him back. They live blissfully for a while. And the cycle begins again.
Her brain says, “We’ve done this before. If we forgive the cheating, we’ll receive bliss.” We all want bliss. If she decides to end the relationship, she’ll feel heartbreak and pain. She’ll have to change her lifestyle. She’ll have to evolve.
The definition of evolve is to develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form. To become a more complex form, you must first recognize your current form as simple. That seems harsh. But once you realize you don’t have all the answers, you begin to look elsewhere for them. And lucky for us, the planet is full of other people, plenty of them smarter and willing to share their knowledge.
If my friend in the example above decides to stand up for herself and begin the difficult process of evolution, she may begin with therapy. She may learn her husband’s cheating is a defect in him. She may be able to rid herself of the shame and guilt that comes with being cheated on. And she may commit to learning about red flags to avoid when she looks for a new relationship.
This evolution process will hurt. It takes patience to develop gradually. But the result will be worth it.
The answer is up to you.
Evolve? Or repeat?