When you really want to believe something, I’ve discovered that you’ll look for any opportunity to legitimise the belief, even when there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that what you believe isn’t absolutely or even a lot true. You’ll know this is you if you’ve experienced any of the following:
You read something in a newspaper/magazine/website, etc., that taps into your fears and beliefs and then go into a tailspin.
‘Oh no! The Daily Fail has an article with statistics that suggest that there are no good people to date/that I don’t look how a woman should/I’ve failed as a parent if I breathe/formula feed/have a glass of wine/have a c-section. This makes me… lose hope that I’ll meet someone/feel like I’m not good enough because I don’t look airbrushed/believe that I’m failing at motherhood.’
Somebody you don’t know tells another stranger, who tells someone else, who tells someone you do know about this terrible dating experience they had. You go into anxious mode.
‘I just don’t think I can face dating anymore. I mean, look at what happened to that woman that I heard about from so-and-so who told so-and-so who told so-and-so! I’m better off alone or with my current assclown.’
You think it’s your fault that someone treated you poorly, has code amber and red behaviour, or even disappeared, so you look for ‘resources’ that will put the blame squarely at your door.
This is one of those situations I hear about too often. ‘I was reading a site that said it was all my fault that they disappeared! I feel so awful! If I had done X/Y/Z they wouldn’t have done it.’
You break up because you’re unhappy with the relationship. You’re incompatible, and you may even have a long list of complaints about them and refer to them as an ‘assclown’ or ‘asshole’, but then you hear they’ve moved on.
‘They’re off being a better person in a better relationship having the time of their life while muggins here is miserable. It was me why they didn’t treat me well, wasn’t it? It’s because I wasn’t good enough.‘
There’s no point holding onto a belief unless it positively serves you.
It’s of benefit for you to recognise that not everybody can be ‘the one’ or be suitable for a relationship. In fact, people aren’t always what they seem and sometimes it takes a little time for things to fully reveal themselves. People unfold. Relationships unfold. This means that instead of bowling in with both eyes closed, you use dating as a discovery phase, are aware of what unhealthy behaviour and situations look like, and are willing to pay attention.
What’s not of benefit for you to believe is that the world is a predatory place full of people that want to screw you over and break your heart. This will not only cause you to be fearful and distrusting but viewing the world through a distorted lens means that you’re never really in anything because you’re expecting the worst to happen. You’re also more likely to gravitate to people that reflect your beliefs.
Unfortunately, when you do have unhealthy and unrealistic beliefs, you actually do believe that there’s a benefit to believing the worst. You get to avoid risking yourself and all the perceived ‘dangers’. You get to say that it’s everyone and everything else’s fault. Or, you say it’s your own fault and make believing the worst your ‘punishment’.
But if you’re unhappy believing the worst and spend your days ruminating on how you’d like things to be different but it’s just a shame they can’t be because of whatever you believe, might as well you go out and try. Try better than you did the last time.
I find that people fall into two traps: not believing in their capabilities, which limits their opportunities, or conversely, thinking that they have superhuman powers and the ability to change people with their feelings and expectations.
Whatever you believe is really tied to your capabilities in that context. For example, people who believe that relationships are hard, most people cheat, and that relationships ultimately fail, believe that their relationships are hard. They believe that their partners will cheat, and they don’t believe they can maintain a relationship.
You have no control over others. And let’s face it, ‘others’ prove you wrong every single day.
So why can’t you [prove you wrong]? Or should I be asking, why won’t you?
Oddly, many of the people who don’t believe in themselves, who essentially have given up or have come to believe that the world is a shady place, haven’t found it too hard to believe in someone they shouldn’t. These same people will protest about how hard it is to love themselves.
- How can it be so hard to love you when you were willing to love someone else who may not even have returned your affections?
- How can it be so hard to believe in you when you believed in someone else in spite of the fact that they repeatedly let you down?
Get behind you. Get behind your choices, your decisions, and who you are as a person.
Don’t be one of those easily influenced people that end up being inauthentic because you’re too busy trying to be what you think others want out of you or you don’t know how to be you because you’ve lost your way.
Stop looking for the easy way out of stretching yourself.
You’re telling yourself the worst and then devoting your life to discovering ‘evidence’ to support your thinking. Wouldn’t it be better to devote your life to challenging the worst so that you can have better experiences?
You can read articles in the media without becoming the story. They have their own agenda. If you’re losing your mind over articles you read, it’s a sign that you are not personally secure and are not grounded in your values. Consciously or not, you’re inadvertently looking for an escape out of the path of being authentic and accountable. You might be gravitating to media that appears to provide evidence of your fears.
You can also hear stories from others about their dating experiences without locking yourself in the house or experiencing great anxiety. If you’re planning to have better experiences, to love and listen to you, to be more alert, that anxiety can be greatly reduced. Use the anxiety and being triggered by these stories to address the fear(s) that’s coming up for you.
If you plan for failure, your anxiety will increase.
Don’t overfeed worry and anxiety by letting you continue to imagine terrible outcomes. Notice when you’re doing this as soon as you can, and hop off the train of thought. Don’t delude yourself by looking for reasons to blame yourself for other people’s crappy behaviour. Recognise that while you can provide a fertile ground for shadiness, they’re only doing what they’re already predisposed to do.
Your ex is not on house arrest until you decide that you’re in a ‘good enough’ situation for them to move on. Them having a good time has nothing to do with you. The sooner you stop thinking the worst–that they’re having a good time to highlight how you’re not good enough–is the sooner you can move forward and have a good time in your own life. You only have to be pissed off about your ex enjoying themselves if you’re expecting not to ever enjoy yourself again.
There’s no benefit to believing the worst about you other than avoiding vulnerability in exchange for playing it safe in situations that cater to your beliefs. The worst that can happen isn’t actually often what you envision it to be; it’s thinking the worst and then getting to a certain point and regretting that you didn’t treat yourself better and take healthier chances. It’s never too late to start thinking better of you. Start now with your actions and choices. Let them inform your thinking, not the outdated and unloving beliefs.
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