“It’s Groundhog Day… again.”
A few days ago, on February 2nd, was the annual observance of Groundhog Day in the U.S. and Canada. On this day, people gather and wait for a groundhog to emerge from his den and determine for us if we will have an early spring or six more weeks of winter.
As riveting as that sounds, this day always reminds me of something a little more interesting – one of my favorite movies, a 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray, called Groundhog Day. In this movie, Bill Murray’s character, Phil, repeats the same day again and again. It’s like he’s stuck in a karmic loop where he has to repeat his same mistakes until he finally changes himself enough to break the cycle and move forward with his life.
Makes You Laugh, Then Makes You Think
I love the Groundhog Day movie because it’s just downright funny. It even has a score of 8/10 on IMDB and 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s that good. However, beyond the silly scenes and situations, I like the deeper story line about how we tend to keep reliving the past and repeating the same mistakes. It makes you think, doesn’t it?
I know for myself, I can see definite patterns in my life where it might have new people and new situations, but the theme is the same. A lot of these patterns are brought on by old, ingrained habits that we picked up as early as childhood, some are defense mechanisms, and others are our own personal flaws and blind spots that we’re not even aware of. It can certainly feel like your own version of Groundhog Day when you begin to recognize these cycles you’re living in.
A Year of Change and Growth… and Moving Forward
I know for a lot of people, including myself, last year was a tough growth year, and for many, the year didn’t finish out the way they had hoped either. For me, it was a tough year because I spent the first nine months of it getting over a 2 1/2-year relationship I had ended. I spent a lot of time “finding myself” again and mending my grieving heart, but it wasn’t easy. I was really depressed for several months.
However, looking back over the last year, I still would call it a good year overall. Why? Because it forced me to grow and break through some barriers I didn’t know I had that were holding me back. One of the biggest things I realized is that I had forgotten my own strength. By going through so much pain and internal turmoil, I stripped away everything that wasn’t me until all that was left was just me… only me.
Feeling Small Until You’re Not Anymore
For a time, I felt so small, so alone. I had my friends, of course, but this kind of growth is something you ultimately have to do on your own. It’s between you and yourself. Like in the movie Groundhog Day, you have to wake up every day and face that demon in the mirror. At first, you loathe it and resent it; you want to do everything you can to just make it go away. But it doesn’t go away. Every day, it’s there, waiting for you. Every day is the same, until…
In the end, you have to accept that that demon is you. Then you have to learn how to love it. That’s when the real transformation begins and the cycle breaks. Once you stop resisting it (yourself) and start accepting yourself – every part of yourself – and developing self-love and compassion, then and only then will you wake up to a different day. Then you will realize that you’ve had wings all along, and your proverbial Groundhog Days will end.
What is Your Groundhog Day?
We all have our own version of Groundhog Day – getting stuck in the same beliefs and attitudes, avoiding certain situations and commitments because of past experiences, missing out on opportunities, making excuses, dating the same “type” of person, getting taken advantage of or feeling like a doormat – the examples are as endless as they are personal.
And it is personal. If you’re living your own version of Groundhog Day, waking up each day to the same patterns of the past, you’re the only one who can decide when you’ve had enough and are ready to change. Even if others see these patterns and habits, and even if they try to intervene with well-meaning advice or harsh judgments. Either way, it’s up to you… and that’s good news.
Breaking the Cycle
So now it comes down to it. How do we get out of the cycle? Actually, and thankfully, it’s not as hard as it might seem. It really comes down to observation, awareness, and openness. The key factor is that you need to be willing to be honest with yourself, and to paraphrase Toni Morrison, you need to be ready to let go of all that isn’t you.
Make some time to get away by yourself for a while. Whether it’s an hour, a whole day, several days, or just 30 minutes. Whatever time you can give yourself, take it as a gift and use it to really take a look at your life. Try to step back and have an “outside” perspective as if you are looking at someone else’s life.
Look at the big picture instead of the tiny details. What patterns, trends, and habits do you see? What areas are causing you pain, stress, and frustration? What makes you feel sad, angry, or afraid? If you quiet your mind and get away from your distractions (turn your phone off for a while when you do this), you will be able to tune in and really listen to yourself. Once you start paying attention, your subconscious will definitely start talking. Just remember to stay open to the truth, and keep an attitude of acceptance toward yourself, no matter what your psyche brings up.
The Great Thing About Life and New Beginnings
No matter what you believe about life, death, the afterlife, etc. there is one thing we can all agree on – life is a journey. This journey is aimed toward growth, development, and personal betterment. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Love yourself, accept yourself, and live each day as a new and fresh beginning, because as Phil in Groundhog Day said, “Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”
For a good laugh, check out the Groundhog Day trailer below. The full movie can also be found on YouTube.