Ep. 1: An Introduction to Enactment [Ask Freudina]
How to Recognize Repetitive Behaviors and Patterns
Have you ever found yourself acting out repetitive behaviors over and over? These patterns can cause some serious problems, especially in relationships; for example, it is fairly common for couples to break up due to patterns of behavior from one or both parties, only for those people to then repeat those behaviors in their next relationship. Other times we find ourselves acting in the same way with a certain person despite evidence that those behaviors are harmful, like getting into petty fights with a sibling over and over. So what can we do to stop reacting instinctively and make more thoughtful decisions about our relationships?
It’s nearly impossible to avoid cliches here, but there’s a reason some things become cliche. By recognizing a problematic behavior pattern, you’ve already taken a major step towards changing that pattern. Next, you have to internalize the belief that it can really be changed.
Many people feel like these sorts of patterns are so entrenched and familiar to them that they start to accept them as inevitable parts of “who they are” or “what they grew up to be,” giving the patterns a sense of permanence. These same people often don’t realize that the repetitive behaviors they see as “inevitable” only arise in hyper-specific situations, and they are generally able to avoid those behaviors. Realizing this, and working on “defeating” your defeatist attitude, are your next steps towards freedom from your unhelpful behavioral instincts.
If you work hard enough at it, you might find yourself aware of your harmful patterns, and accepting of the idea that you can fix them, but still performing the behaviors over and over. Seeing as these patterns are often learned in childhood, and have been part of you for many years, just recognizing them and being ready to get rid of them can only do so much. You can learn a lot from looking at examples of these patterns in action, which is exactly what we do in episode one of the Ask Freudina Podcast. We hear from a few callers whose issues fall into this category, whether they realize it or not.
One caller describes his frustration with a standoffish co-worker who refuses to accept his (metaphorical) friendship bracelet.
Another caller delves into a dating dilemma that has him losing interest for an unusual reason – his dates seem a little too keen to jump into bed with him. We explore how he can overcome this pattern of rejection and have a shot at the meaningful relationship he wants.
Our last caller has trouble making up her mind, and not just in a “what to wear” kind of way – after going back and forth between two graduate school choices, she ends up saying yes to both, and has to figure out how to fix the situation.
We also enjoy a lighthearted break from the problems and dilemmas when our good friend Dr. Michael Singer, a well-known psychologist in New York, joins us on the line. We dissect the popularity of “tragic entertainment” in times of real tragedy.
Tune in and gain insight on:
- Identifying your own entrenched behavioral patterns, or looking back on situations in your life where you were performing them
- Identifying the impact which your feelings about yourself can have in social scenarios, such as dating
- How and why historical narratives of tragedy in the media and entertainment industry seem attractive and even comforting to consume during times of crisis
- How our entertainment selections help us internalize what’s going on, especially during stormy weather
- Why people can be indecisive, and why it causes us so much pain
If you find yourself engaging in repetitive behaviors that seem to be deeply ingrained in your personality, or if you have a tendency to react to situations in a way that causes you more trouble than it should, this episode is made for you.
Curious about the more technical terms? Dive into this week’s Shrink Think Bonus Episode!
In this episode, we take an in-depth look at what enactment is and why it is important to understand the role it plays in our lives. We discuss how the wordless communication we absorb during childhood has a significant impact on our communication style in adulthood. This info provides a really good basis for Freudina’s advice to our callers this week, and, perhaps, a better grasp of our own enactments. Don’t miss it!
A Quote to Remember
“… we learn scripts and roles early in life, and are doomed to repeat these roles– and only these roles– for the rest of our lives… unless we recognize them and make a deliberate attempt to shift our perspectives and flip our scripts.” — Dr. Alison Feit
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About the Author
I am a Harvard and Yale trained psychologist who has worked with clients around the world to help them find well-being, mentored executives and entrepreneurs, mediated business disputes, and done lots of writing and teaching.
Here are a few things you should know about the way I work…
- I believe in reducing pain as quickly as possible! Psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, are simply terrible to live with and my first goal is to help you find immediate relief.
- -I believe symptoms also convey important information about each person’s innermost desires, pains, and histories. Through understanding your hidden conflicts, internal struggles clear up and symptoms resolve.
- As you may have noticed, I take serious problems seriously - but I always make room to inject humor into a situation. (Good thing I went into psychology - otherwise I’d probably still be trying to make it in improv theater!)