I don't think
it is irrational to be pessimistic about the future. I am
pessimistic for good reasons - I've lived through a lot of
stuff not working out! I don't have the job I want, nor the
man I want. It seems just logical to conclude that the future
holds more of the same.
Do you feel this way? I know I have done. Let's
tackle this head-on. Here's what I said to my friend, whose name
I've changed to protect the skeptical ...
This is one almost everyone struggles with - me
included. If DECADES of your life have told you something about
the world - isn't it likely to be bl**dy true?? Well, yes it is
- but there's a twist.
This is at the heart of personal growth. Tony Robbins says:
"The past does not predict the
- unless you live in it".
That last part - "unless you live in it"
is the key - because we all do. Couple that with another favourite
quote of mine:
"If you keep on doing what you've
you'll keep on getting what you've always got".
So - if you continue to be the Sarah you were last year, then
you can and should expect that this year will be pretty much the same.
If you look back at your record of pulling men,
or whatever you're interested in, then it's actually REASONABLE
to expect the same record for the future - IF (this is the key)
IF you do now, what you did last year.
So the plan should be to do things differently.
Understanding that is an essential step forward,
but it's depressingly not the whole solution.
For example, I now know exactly why I've struggled in some situations.
I know where my outlook came from, and intellectually, I accept
that it is all an irrational mistake. And I also know which behaviours
I should get rid of and which new ones to acquire.
BUT I STILL SOMETIMES DO THE BAD STUFF AND DON'T
ALWAYS DO THE GOOD STUFF.
I'm making progress but this is really hard to
So you and I both have to find ways to do stuff in the real world
which is not what we would normally do, and there are a variety
of methods available.
But key to them all is that you have to be willing
to leave your comfort zone and move into the "stretch zone".
This is the ONLY zone where personal change happens.
If you feel you want to do something, then you're in your
comfort zone - which is the wrong zone! You have to do the things
you don't want to do.
Examples of being in your stretch zone might be:
a. Wearing things which are just "NOT YOU"
- after all, we want to change some aspects of what being you
b. Wearing your hair in a different style
c. Taking up an activity which "people
like you" don't do (but a part of you likes the thought of)
e. Smiling at people you don't know (yet)
f. Doing things which might develop into opportunities
- MAKING CHANCES
g. Having your photo taken and hanging it on
your wall (well into the stretch zone, I imagine)
h. Organising a trip with your friends
i. Being the one that ASKS - not just the one
who waits to be asked.
Changing Ourselves is Difficult
Making change like this is difficult - that's why
99.9% of us never do it through choice. The major changes are thrust
upon us - like serious illness, divorce, being fired, etc. But it's
important to accept that this is all in our heads, and so in principle
- in our control.
Leon is Leon [Leon is a fun-loving, outgoing guy we both know] because
of what's in his head - not because of the shape of his body or
his face or his height. Jackie is Jackie [Jackie is quiet and unhappy]
for all the same reasons. And similarly with you and I.
So your pessimism, as you look into the year ahead
and lament that you may never meet Mr. Right is in this same area.
There is nothing external about Sarah which prevents her having
a nice relationship with a nice man. She's a cutie and a nice person.
Of course, I realise you KNOW better. This is the "mistaken
certainty" which is heard about so much in the coaching world.
One other thing from the NLP world. "Re-framing". If you
want this change, then you'll have to work on it.
You can choose to see it as a never-ending, doomed-to-failure, pointless,
painful, but-there's-no-other-game-in-town struggle until death.
Or you can choose to see it as a brave new adventure which could
be intrinsically enjoyable, and during which wonderful things can
and will happen (as well as a few bad ones, as we both now know).
In practice, I guess you'll see it as both at different times; you
could try to see it in the second frame more often.
And you can choose (to some degree) to look forward more often than
you look back (at your recent relationship break-up, for example).
This is where the quote from last week comes in for me:
"Don't wish the world were easier,
wish that you were tougher".
If all this sounds annoyingly smug and trite then I understand.
It's been a long journey for me to come to understand that we
invent our own worlds, then we go and live in the world we invented.
Even when we hate it. We have the power to re-invent a better
world, then go and live in that.
It is *SO* not easy to do, and virtually impossible to do alone.
But it most certainly can be done, and I for one, am in the process
of doing it - for myself and for my clients.
Sure - it's a lifetime's work, but maybe that's what your lifetime
is for, and anyway - it's the best game in town. The other game,
by the way, is to accept a sad fate and wait for death.