We Repeat What We Learn

Have you ever realized that the answer to a problem or confusing situation you were searching for was in front of you the whole time?

I had one of those epiphanies this afternoon after waking from a nap. For a long while, I’ve been trying to figure out the behaviour of one of my brothers. His actions in response to a situation in his life have left me scratching my head and wondering how it’s possible that he can be so cold and detached. I’ve been trying to understand how he can possibly be okay with the knowledge that another person might be suffering because of him. It hit me today that his behaviour was taught to him through the actions or lack of action taken by adults in our lives when we were children.

I’ve been telling myself that I don’t understand his behaviour because we had similar childhood experiences but I didn’t turn out the same as him. The problem with that statement is that I’m wrong. I did turn out the same. I learned the same behaviours he did. However, because I don’t act out against others, I’ve taken an almost self-righteous attitude about how he is living his life. Instead of hurting others, I choose to act out those same behaviours within some areas of my life, which is just as harmful. I choose to hurt myself – not physically but through certain privations – which doesn’t make my actions any less harmful. And it definitely doesn’t mean that I am better adjusted to life than my brother. The scale of my hypocrisy is enormous.

My brother may be an adult, but his actions are those of a small boy because emotionally – and quite possibly psychologically – he has not matured beyond the stage of a child hurt by so many people in his life. The only difference between us is that I can recognize, although not always, when I am triggered and reacting to a situation because of past traumas and I try to figure out how to break out of that space. My brother doesn’t know that he occupies these vastly different temporal spaces and because of this lack of awareness, he’s creating more pain for himself and others. Unfortunately, he has made it clear to me that he doesn’t want my help or that of anyone else who has offered. I only hope he figures some of this out before the hurt he causes becomes too deep to ever be repaired.


R.E.M. – Everybody Hurts



5 thoughts on “We Repeat What We Learn

  1. Wow great insight into yourself and your brother. It is often commented on how siblings can have the same upbringing yet be so different, however as you pointed out it is how we cope that may be different but not the reason behind it.


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