presentsThe Evolving Self
When growth is the only option...

The Evolving Self is an e-newsletter that reflects the belief that growth is a choice that can bring an ever deepening and expanding awareness of who we are and what we are here for. The reader can expect affirmations, quotes, book reviews, insightful commentary and tips that support the growth of the individual.

Affirmation: I choose to be present and make conscious choices.

Quote: “From where we stand the rain seems random. If we could stand somewhere else, we would see the order in it.” ― Tony Hillerman,

Newsletter archives:

December 2018 - Currency of Needs/ A Healthy Relationship with Needs

November 2018 - Command Presence/Are you being a leader in your own life?

October 2018 - The Statue of Responsibility/Gratitude Practice


Certified Aromatherapist

As a Certified Aromatherapist, I am qualified to make custom blends to address various health concerns and skin issues. Many aromatherapy blends also have a quality of emotional support. If you are interested in custom blends to support your physical and/or emotional health and/or coaching along with aromatherapy solutions, please email me at

Contact me to get your own custom blend!

Repetition Compulsion

Have you ever noticed a sense of familiarity in your life experiences? Have you ever found yourself saying, "How can this be happening to me, again?" Especially in our relationships, it is a very common occurance that we recycle through the same pattern, attracting people with similar personalities and behavior. Different face, but basically the same kind of person showing up repeatedly in our lives. This is not exclusive to romantic relationships either; friendships, work associates, people on the PTA, all walks of life.

There is a psychological term for this: Repetition Compulsion, a psychological phenomenon in which a person repeats an event or its circumstances over and over again. Sigmond Freud first wrote about it in 1914, saying Repetition Compulsion "describes the pattern whereby people endlessly repeat patterns of behaviour which were difficult or distressing in earlier life". What's more, according to Freud, people are often unaware they are doing this.

There are many psychologists since Freud who have studied and written about this phenomenon, posing their theories as to why and what is really going on. But from a strictly biological perspective, you could say that because our brains were developing when we had the original experiences, our neurotransmitters formed pathways that they continue to follow. In other words, we developed an emotional program for what relationships are supposed to look like, feel like, etc and we are now simply following that program, even when it's a painful pattern that isn't working for us. Even when that program involves abuse, it is what feels familiar to the brain.

Harville Hendrix has developed a whole theory around repetition compulsion which he calls Imago, stating that the purpose of repeating past traumas provides an opportunity to complete or correct what was unfinished in childhood. The challenge, of course is to bring awareness to these patterns and intervene on them while they are happening. This is not necessarily an easy thing to do. The nature of compulsive behavior is, after all, unconscious.

Continue reading below...


Making Conscious Choices

Repetition compulsion shows up is in our own behavior as well. Despite having had painful experiences that don't go the way we would like them to, some people continue to make the same poor choices relative to the people we associate with and how we associate with them.

And I notice that a lot of people, maybe even most people have a really tough time taking responsibility for their own behavior patterns. It is much easier and maybe less painful to blame others for abusing or mistreating us. Who wants to admit that the choices they make in their lives are responsible for their own pain? Especially when they continue to make those same poor choices over and over again?

Recognizing and owning this truth is the first step towards changing this behavior. It is a huge move to step out of being a victim and to take 100% responsibility for our lives. The only way this is truly possible, is to forgive ourselves for making those poor choices and to work at bringing presence into the moment to make intentional and deliberate choices that are in our highest good.

An example of a person repeatedly making poor choices comes from the hit TV show, Breaking Bad. The show follows the story of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who has been diagnosed with Stage III, inoperable  lung cancer. Because his doctor gives him two years to live, he wants to make sure his family is taken care of as well as pay for his very expensive cancer treatment, so he decides to go into the business of manufacturing and selling methamphetamine. Regardless of the repeated disasterous events related to this plan, Walter continues on a path through five seasons to his eventual death at the hands of a neo-Nazi gang.

Walter is a great example of a person who seems to be their own worse enemy. In spite of all of the evidence that his decisions are creating destruction in his life and those he loves, he continues to make decisions that are reactive rather than proactive.

Many people operate from their heads which means that their decisions are a reflection of their ego and fear-based thinking. Making conscious choices requires that we are intentional about tuning in to the body and getting into our hearts. Debbie Ford has a guided exercise that I find really powerful. If you close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and imagine a flame inside in the area of your heart. Consider the decisions you've made in the past 24 hours, do they cause the flame to grow into a robust burning fire? Or do they cause the flame to diminsh and shrink. Those decisions that we make in our lives that cause that flame to grow are the ones that feed us and contribute to our highest good.

What is the condition of your flame?

Making conscious choices can enable us to live deliberately and to avoid repeating the past.



Click here to find out more
Jaqui Duvall works as a coach, mentor, trainer, facilitator and public speaker developing and delivering workshops, leading mentoring groups and working with individuals to help them identify and express their inner spirit and live a life of consciousness and intention. •  San Jose