My first internship in grad school was at a posh drug treatment clinic in midtown Manhattan. The owner of the facility was a tall, handsome, quiet, well known addiction expert and an MD. I went to great lengths to avoid interacting with Dr. W. If I saw him coming towards me in the hall, I would panic and ditch into the ladies room to avoid even passing by him. Now you might think I was well aware of how extreme my reaction was to Dr.W…but actually I thought he was cold, unfeeling and a little scary and that hiding in the bathroom from a man I barely knew, in a professional setting, was a completely normal response. Until I started talking about it in therapy. After discussing Dr. W with my therapist, she asked me to describe my father. I described him as tall, handsome, quiet, very successful, cold, unfeeling and a little scary. The connection was made! My response to Dr W was actually a transference reaction as he reminded me of my father and was also in position of power and authority in my life. Once I saw the connection and processed why I feared my own father growing up, I was able to establish a healthy working relationship with Dr.W at the clinic and was hired to run groups there after I graduated.

Most people can relate to my story. If you start to look for the behavioral, situational and emotional patterns in your life, they will emerge. As a therapist, one of my main functions is to gather information and then uncover the patterns. If you find yourself repeatedly in unfulfilling relationships, toxic work environments or friendships you need to follow the dots backwards in your life experience to find the beginning of the pattern or as I refer to it, Situation Zero.

Many situations people recreate as adults stem from childhood. Whether you grew up in a healthy home, or a dysfunctional one, you adapted a belief system and learned behaviors that created the blueprints that are downloaded into your unconscious mind. You have used these blueprints to build your life.

Addressing an emotional injury from the PAST, can FREE you from repeating it in the FUTURE @Terri_Cole {CLICK TO TWEET}

A downloaded blueprint is a belief system that is planted during childhood. These blueprints, are like the architectural blueprint for a house, that someone else designed. Most of the time you don’t even question them because you aren’t aware that this isn’t simply ‘how the world is.’ It is my job to help people uncover and understand what they often cannot see. I find that most people are completely unaware of how their unresolved past is informing their present.

It can’t actually be about someone else because it’s Your life @Terri_Cole {CLICK TO TWEET}

No matter what the situation or relationship, there is always an opportunity to understand yourself more deeply. In order to create a freedom filled and luscious life you must look at the areas where what you seek alludes you. If you have repeated pain around work, love, health or money, then it is mandatory that you do some deep work to uncover why. This is how you will discover the origin of the limiting belief or behavior.

Many people find it easier to blame. They blame their partner, they blame their boss, they blame their family, friends; you name it, they blame it. Yet, all blame does is keep you stuck. Sure you may get a new job or find a new relationship, but remember, “wherever you go, there you are.” For most people it takes countless times, sometimes even a lifetime to learn that when situations keep repeating themselves, two, three… ten times, the issue and the answers aren’t out there, they are in you.

This truth is meant to be liberating not blaming. Blaming anyone is pointless, as an end game. Understanding and honoring what happened in your life and how it affected you is productive and leads to healing. Taking responsibility to figure it out might be the only thing that leads you to sustainable, lasting change. Then when you discover a dysfunctional pattern or have an issue, you will know where to start looking for answers.

One of the first steps to shifting limiting beliefs that create harmful patterns is to connect the dots backwards. When you find yourself in any sort of conflict ask yourself ‘Have I experienced this before?’ If yes, then ask yourself ‘where and when did I experience this?’ And lastly ask ‘what did this experience lead me to believe?’

If you find that your past experiences have caused you to have a belief system that makes you feel negative about yourself, other people or the world, then know know this, YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR BELIEFS! Just because someone else drew up the blueprints for your house doesn’t mean that you have to keep it! If you don’t like what you see, or think, change it. It can take time and it does take effort but I want you to know that it is totally possible.

I always love connecting with you so please share with me below one area where you experience repeating patterns. Tell me what these experiences have lead you to believe. Then tell me the shifts you would like to make in your beliefs so that you can stop reliving this pattern. Also if you have any questions or need some help doing the deep dive that this work requires, ask me. I love being of service to you.

Remember that you are the common denominator in your life so let that empowered truth propel you forward into a week of kind inquiry and, as always, take care of you.

Love Love Love





*image courtesy of Laura Taylor

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  1. I am 61 a woman. I realized 5 years ago when my mother died that I am responsible for all the things in my life that have gone wrong. I have 3 messed up adult children. None of them have friends. I have worked at the same job for 15 years with no advancement due to my own fear. I am depressed to the point of thinking daily of ways to end it as I know I’m worthless to everyone. I have divorced twice and every relationship I have ended the other person went on to a stable relationship and both of my childrens fathers have never tried to have a relationship with my children after moving on.. I am alone except my youngest child who is 34 and has downs syndrome lives with me. I have no friends. The only time we go out is to special Olympics functions that my son is involved in . This is our only social involvement and it is very limited. I have never done anything for anybody. I have no interest.

  2. Repeated patterns of harrassment work place bullying happens at jobs. I dont believe I am the problem. I believe that I am a threat to the bullies.

  3. I’m the common denominator in the conflict in my life. I tend to overwhelm people because I have so much anxiety and say inappropriate things and create drama where there wasn’t any. My family has rejected me. I get fired from jobs because my coworkers turn on me
    I’m at rock bottom now. I did have a horrible childhood so going backwards doesn’t work for me since I know my mom is responsible for most of it. But I don’t have a flawed belief system. I struggle with anxiety and social issues. I need to just stay at home and out of this world

    1. Witnessing you, Michelle, and I’m holding space for your growth. You always have the power to make a new choice. The past does not need to be your future. Keep looking inward and heal yourself.

  4. I loved this article. I started a book entitled “Why we pick the mates we pick” and it talks about this blue print you are referring to. I can relate to this as it seems I continue to pick emotionally unavailable men, which I believe is because I had an absent father who I wanted his attention and never got. Although I believe this is the issue, I cannot seem to “fix” this
    problem. I become frustrated with my mates for not getting enough attention, I feel that I give and give and give and yet I get nothing in return. I hope this makes sense. Can you help me figure out how to get out of this cycle so I can be happy in my relationships?
    Thanks for all you do!

    1. Hi Melissa,

      Thanks for your open and honest share. First of congrats on your awareness, many people don’t see the patterns they are creating in their own lives. Once you take responsibility, which you have, you can then change the pattern. This is very good news! Second, you can download a pdf of my Downloaded Love Blueprint exercise here This may help you dive a bit deeper into the beliefs you have from childhood and can help you change them. I would also suggest you check out ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics AND Dysfunctional Families) as emotional abandonment is dysfunctional.
      Lastly, forgiveness can set you free. Once you forgive your father for not being there for you the way you wished he had, you can stop trying to ‘fix’ your relationship with him through your current romantic partners. This is not to say you what your father did was okay, but rather acknowledging that he was probably doing the best he could. I hope this helps and be sure to circle back and keep me updated on your progress. – Terri

    2. Great article!
      I’ve had a lifetime of over-intense friendships with other women where I find myself in the role of Listener and comforter, and a lifetime of relationships with men where I am lied to, manipulated and let down.
      Voila! My parents!
      I’ve done a lot of work on myself and am fully aware of my patterns, but so much of it happens beneath my logical reasoning. It’s like I’m hard wired to be like that and although I can see it, I can’t change it.
      I avoid getting too close to anyone now, women and men. Am too scared of more reruns.
      How can I change and trust myself when all my natural instincts draw me in to repeat this painful pattern?
      ….despite years of therapy ):

      1. Hi JJ,
        Thank you for sharing this. It sounds like you are very conscious of these patterns, and it will be difficult for you to know how much progress you’re making by rejecting relationships (both friendships and romantic relationships). It’s difficult to put yourself out there, but if you maintain this consciousness and effort to understand your downloaded blueprint from your parents, it can be worth it. ❤️

  5. So I have had a repetitive work place situation. In my last position, I became close friends with the owner of the store I was working at, I worked hard, we had fun, I cared about the work I was doing. Until I didn’t. I didn’t feel like trying anymore, I didn’t feel like the effort was worth it, it caused a difficult situation both at work and within our friendship, when I finally chose to leave. Now, I have been in my new position for about 3 months, it started out pretty good, I was excited, eager to do well and to the opportunities, I became close friends with my manager. Now I am finding it very difficult to perform the tasks that I dislike, like the effort isn’t worth it, and I am very close to leaving. I was sent home from work by my manager so I can see this affecting our friendship as well.

    1. Hi Erin-
      It sound like your lack of appropriate boundaries is impacting you negatively at work. Once you become close friends with people who have authority over you at work-the situation becomes complicated. Are you over functioning in the beginning and then once you are friends and no longer feel the need to have your boss/friend’s approval you stop feeling motivated to do the tasks required?
      Can you connect any dots backwards in your life? Ask yourself where else this situation had happened-in school (did you become friends with a teacher?) Where did the desire to be considered special begin? Did you have a special relationship with one of your parents? I think that the origin of this repetition is at some earlier stage of development-maybe if you take a look you will have a better understanding. I would also suggest that in your next job you see what it’s like to have a good healthy working relationship with your boss and not become personal friends. I hope this helped! Good luck!

  6. I constantly fear the President in our Division no matter who he is. We’ve had three since I started working in this division. I avoid them because I’ve made mistakes in front of each of them and get so embarrassed that I literally can’t think straight, I get red in the face, sweat and become so uncomfortable that I eventually avoid any interaction with them, including eye contact. I get made at myself for reacting this way.

    1. Hi Teres, I’d like to offer a different perspective. Perhaps you make mistakes in front of the President, no matter who they may be, because you feel so uncomfortable around them, not the other way around. I’d like you to consider how you feel about people that you deem as ‘authority figures.’ I am only getting a small amount of information from you but I’d like you to think about this. Also, how do you deal with mistakes that you make in front coworkers, family, friends, strangers? Or perhaps this is not an issue of authority figures but rather of forgiveness. Either way check out this post from earlier this year, I hope you find some peace in it

  7. In my work places, I encounter a person who pushes the work onto me and tells me they are too busy to do it. I end up building up many assumptions about them. Mainly I am mad that they make it seem like they are much busy than me, and my time is not valuable. I’m thinking back to when this might have happened in the past. It seems like there were a few times when my mom throws me a project when I’m busy with something. So, my reaction might be triggered because of that. I’m going to try to reconcile with my mom the next time she gives me a project, to talk to her and see how she can help also.

      1. I have told myself this very phrase now for years. ( you are the common denominator) It has truly helped me develop and grow. Good and bad, I am at the centre of everything in my life. It’s such a powerful feeling, when I say powerful I mean positive. When I say positive I mean liberating.

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