The map in our patterns

Aug 31, 2022 | Insights

The patterns of history repeat themselves, and provide a map for us to ride the troughs and peaks of life.
“She felt totally out of her depth but recognised that despite feeling like this on many occasions throughout her life, she always managed to do the things she put her mind to.” (My italics)
This quote from Story Driven by Bernadette Jiwa forms part of the story of Leanne, the owner of Miss Gertrude’s hair salon in Melbourne, Australia.
Leanne was born in Glasgow, Scotland, into a loving family and uninspiring employment and educational environment. However, Jiwa tells how Leanne’s creativity propelled her into award-winning hairdressing assignments, despite feeling held back by a shy and introverted personality.
So it is little wonder that Leanne “felt totally out of her depth” as she established Miss Gertrude. However, the words “feeling like this on many occasions” resonate.

The patterns of history repeat themselves

We all feel out of our depth from time to time. For example, something goes wrong, or you find yourself in a new situation without the skills or knowledge to cope. Or, as now, the global headwinds of war, rising energy prices, inflation and falling real incomes leave you floundering.
Yet, haven’t we been here before?
Looking back, I recall the fear and anxiety of events such as
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962
  • The Six-Day War of 1967
  • The oil crisis, the three-day week and power blackouts of 1973-74
  • A time of personal trauma as a member of HM Forces in 1978
  • My car crash and messed-up relationships of the early Eighties
  • Black Monday in 1987
  • The oil shock, the recession and a personal financial crisis in the early ’90s
  • Establishing my own business in the mid-’90s
  • The deaths of my parents whilst starting a family in the late ’90s
  • The global financial crisis of 2008
  • 9/11
  • The Pandemic of the 2020s
  • The death this decade of close friends and, worse, their children

The patterns of life are a story

Whilst the events or situations may differ, the pattern remains the same.
Like a well-told story (because this is what it is), something happens to upset your world. You find yourself in free fall, not knowing which way to turn. You might even hit rock bottom. Then you think about how to recover and take action to get out of the mess. You start to develop and grow.
In particular, you make new friends, join new communities and learn new skills. At last, you take your place in a world that has changed and provided an opportunity to live more on your terms.
And here we still are, a bit older, wiser, and better equipped to deal with the next upset.
Sometimes I look back on my life and wonder if it isn’t a miracle that I am still here in one piece. It may be that I am more familiar with life’s patterns, which gives me the belief that I can ride out the storms. However, it’s also about connection and the realisation that every situation has a spiritual and material impact. Financial crises, in particular, can stimulate robust spiritual growth.

Discover the patterns for a way forward

What can you do to get to the same place? Well, here are some ideas.
  • Read someone else’s story and look for the patterns (Glennon Doyle’s Love Warrior is great for this, as are the myths of the ancient world)
  • Write down some stories of times in your life when things didn’t go well and look for the patterns.
  • Imagine future hard times and predict the pattern and your journey through the pattern.
  • Be prepared to ask for and offer help.
The patterns of history repeat themselves, and Leanne’s story is inspiring for this reason. She has been there, done it and got the tee-shirt. She knows the pattern and is equipped to ride the troughs and peaks of life. Leanne has much to teach us.


Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash


Jiwa, Bernadette. Story Driven: You don’t need to compete when you know who you are (p. 84). Perceptive Press. Kindle Edition.

Glennon Doyle Melton (2017). Love Warrior. Macmillan USA.

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