Considering how strongly your idea of the world is shaped by your first years in life, isn’t it a bit strange to think that we all exist in the same physical reality but percieve it in completely different ways?
Some grow up in a loving environment and learned that the world is a safe and wondrous place. That there is always room for trying new things, cause it’s no big deal to fail. That other people are trustworthy and that everything is going to be alright.
Others grow up in a place, family or situation that taught them hold back. Always put other peoples needs before their own to not get abandoned, left out or have bad other things happen to them. Being yourself is unsafe and expressing needs makes others uncomfortable.
And some grew up learning to fight for themselves. Not necessarily in an empowered and confident way but rather because they belive that other people won’t be there for them. If you can’t trust that people will or can help you, you have no choice but to take care of yourself and make sure you get what you need…
Certain people find love, friendship and social situations the easiest things in the world, but might on the other hand doubt their ability to get the dream job, the raise or start a business. Others are the exact opposite and feel very secure in their abilty to create any kind of empire but constantly doubt them selves in social settings and feel unlikeable or unloveable.
We all have our very personal ideas, beliefs and assumptions about how life works, and they can be in stark contrast with each other. However, even though we live in our own unique little worlds, we still have to find some way to connect, relate and coexist with each other. But how?
WHAT DOES YOUR WORLD LOOK LIKE?
If we want to have a chance to meet each other in a true and authentic way I think we first need to understand our underlying views on life and ourselves. Your view on the world will inform your choices, thoughts, actions and decisions, regardless of if you’re aware of it or not.
But it’s only when you became aware of these things that you have the possibility to make your own choices and consciously decide weather or not your old views still hold true. And that’s when really exciting things start to happen! Both in the relationship you have with life and in the relationship you have with other people.
How well you know yourself will, among other things, decide how well other people can get to know you. If you don’t know who you are or how your inner world works, it’s a bit much to ask that someone else should to know you and understand you, isn’t it?
When you’ve familiarized yourself with your unconscious ideas of the world it will get much easier to understand others. You wont have to wonder why they behave the way they do, overanalyze their actions or take it personally when they do something weird. Because you understand that they, too, are driven by their inner assumptions of the world, their fears and their ideas about other people. It usually doesn’t have much to do with you.
BREAK THE NORM AND MAKE MAGIC!
The more you learn about your own inner world, the more curious you will be about the inner worlds of other people. Instead of talking about outer circumstances like where they live or work, you’ll be curious about what is going on inside them.
How are they shaped by their experiences? What are they feeling in this exact moment? What are they dreaming about? Struggling with?
And you’ll most likely start feeling inspired to share what is alive, true and important for you with other people to a bigger extent. Now that you know, doesn’t it make sense to share it?
When this is what your dates, meetings and relationships consist of, something really cool will start to happen! You’ll actually be able to connect with each other for real! Then, and only then, will you have the chanse to really see, experience and understand each other. That is when it *clicks*, and when the magic happens.
Unfortunately most people have no idea about this but are stuck in a completely different social norm. One that keeps us in the shallow end of connection and consists mostly of small talk, prestige and superficial stuff. It never gets personal och intimate, but rather creates a distance between people. Still, that’s where we tend to end up, so we miss out on the magic.
The good news is that you get to choose exactly what you talk to people about! Isn’t that just awesome?
In no way are you required to follow the stiff norm and do the polite fact exchange with people you meet! In fact, it will give you social superpowers if you don’t! The very norm of small talks makes a lot of people really long for real things and be truly seen. So be the person that let’s them do that!
It will give you work advantages, deepen your friendships, make your life more truthful and not least make your dates feel more alive and interesting!
There are many very very bad reasons for being in a relationshop with someone. Reasons not at all based on love and connection.
- I don’t know who I am without him
- It’s okay most of the time
- What if I never find someone better
- I’m terrified of being alone
- Who else would want to be with me?
- This isn’t great but a breakup would mean I’d have to move and…ugh I can’t even
- You know what you have but not what you get and dating again seems like so much work…
However, no one ever gets asked the question “why are you in a relationship?”.
People just assume that if you have a partner you’re all set and everything is good.
Single people on the other hand can get all kinds of questions about why they’re single, as if that by definition is a problem to be fixed.
Obviously things aren’t this black and white.
There are good and bad reasons to be in a relationship, and there are good and bad reasons to be single. Not all single people are unhappy and far from all relationships are good.
But if you’re struggling with finding someone, it’s very easy to assume that a partner would solve all of your problems, or that everyone who’s in a relationship is happy. This is not the case at all.
I would actually like to go so far as to say that the very fact that you are struggling will transform into a strength, if you let it. The things you need to learn, and the work you need to do with yourself in order to find someone will also be huge benefits for you when you are in a relationship. You will have had to think about and learn very useful things that most people don’t know, do or bring into their relationships.
I for one, would never ever ever have done all the research I have on dating, flirting and attraction had it not been absolutely neccessary. The only reason I know so much about it that I can work and help others with it is that once upon a time I know absolutely nothing. If I had had an “okay” love life or an “okay” relationship, none of this would have happened.
My biggest struggle became my biggest strenght, and today “okay” is not even interesting to me. I only accept amazing soul-shaking love. That is what you deserve too.
And I think the lower you’ve been, the higher you’re able to bounce up.
When we’re dating, I know we always try to make things go the very best that they can. Especially when we really start to like someone, it’s easy to get really invested in what happens next and try to make sure it all works out well.
The backside of this is that we tend to blame ourselves a lot for things that we do that we might regret when we see the results. Maybe the message you sent didn’t get the fast response you hoped for, or maybe something you did worked out differently than you thought it would.
In those cases it’s sooo easy to start beating yourself up and regretting you ever did anything at all.
But please don’t.
Dating isn’t a straight highway to just one destination. It’s more like downhill skiing; you twist and turn in different directions all the time, hoping that you’ll stay on your feet all the way down.
You adapt, learn and adjust all the time. In skiing and in dating.
The more you do it the better you will become, but sometimes you might fall on your ass. It’s ok. It’s part of the process. Get up and try again. Maybe you need to rest a little first, then get up and try again.
You will be okay.
Have you ever dated someone who has a completely different dating timeline than you?
Maybe you are someone who like really long dates and if you like each other want to make sure that you stay in touch more or less all the time between dates.
Or maybe you think a two hour date works fine and then want to spend a few days apart to think about how it felt and decide if you want to go on another date.
As you can probably tell these are two completely different approaches to dating. One is not worse or better than the other, they are just different – and that can create some problems if you are not aware.
Someone who wants to have a lot of contact frequently will probably interpret someones silence as lack of interest.
And the one who likes to take their time and date a bit slower might think that a more driven dater seems very intense or maybe even desperate.
But in fact, it might just be that they are dating on different “timetables”.
Keep that in mind when you meet someone who seems to be doing things faster or slower than you, respect their preference – and your own! If the tempo is important to you maybe you need to find someone who will keep your pace?
One thing that keeps fascinating me is that so many of the amazing people that I coach keep dating persons they find boring or under stimulating. They don’t want to lose out from having too high standards or not give people a chance, so they go on dates with people they’re not really interested in.
Afterwards they feel shallow for rejecting people without a valid reason. However, they do have a valid reason; they found the person boring or under stimulating, but they fail to admit that to themselves. It feels way to mean do dismiss someone like that, so often times they blame it on something more concrete, and then blame themselves for being shallow.
But you are not shallow. Not at all, rather the opposite. You want a deep heartfelt connection, and you crave it so much that you are willing to give almost anyone a chance. That is beautiful and admirable, but not very effective. It is ok that you are not into everyone. It is okay that a lot of people make you feel bored. You are not obliged to like everyone, and it is not mandatory for them to like you.
What I find interesting is that when I ask my clients if they knew before the date that the person wasn’t gonna be all that interesting to them, almost everyone says yes. So I say it again: you need to stop dating people that feel boring to you. There is nothing wrong with them, and there is nothing wrong with you, but you are not a good match.
When you do this, two things are bound to happen:
1. You will go on fewer dates. Probably better dates, but fewer. This is a good thing and a sign that your selective skills have improved.
2. You will feel way more challenged. If you date someone you actually like and respect and want to be with, the stakes will feel much much higher and you’ll probably me more nervous, self aware and maybe even afraid. This is also a good thing, since it is the opposite of being bored, and you need to get used to being here. It will get easier with time.
Many of our love life patterns begin in early childhood. Our parents teach us by example what we need to do to get (their) love. This incorporates very strongly into our image of ourselves and the world. Unless we break free from it, it will likely remain for the rest of our lives.
I talk to many clients, especially women, who have been cut off by their parents in different ways. “Why do you have to be so expressive/loud/talkative/emotional/creative/energetic/whatever? Please calm down.”
The underlying message is “why do you have to be so much YOU?”
Shaming someone for being who they are is no small thing. Especially not when it’s done to a child. Children will do anything for love and connection because they are literally unsafe if rejected by their parents, and this pattern (unless broken) remains.
If you needed to tone yourself down during the first part of your life to feel loved, safe or accepted, chances are you’ll keep doing it in your love life when you grow up. The problem is that now the situation is very different, and now it won’t work.
It is very hard to enjoy the company of someone who is making themselves small: there is simply no one there to connect with.
If you are not fully there, no one can fully get to know you and fully love all of you. Ironically, this will confirm your old and incorrect belief that you are flawed and need to change in order for people to want to be with you.
But let’s explore the opposite. What would happen if you, instead of shrinking down and hiding, started to show up?
Maybe not 100% all the time, everywhere and with everyone right away, but little by little started to show more and more of who you really are. What would happen then? If you wore that dress you really love but your inner critic thinks is “too much”, or if you shared your opinion just one time more than usual every day, or took that salsa class that you’ve been dreaming of but didn’t think you had the courage to take.
What would happen if you started to take small steps towards being more of you? What if your parents were wrong?
What if it is actually not only ok but wonderful, amazing and beautiful to be as expressive/loud/talkative/emotional/creative/energetic/whatever as you are?
What if I told you that that is your biggest strength. What if I told you it is what your dates, lovers and partners will appreciate the very most about you, if they only get the chance to see it.
What would happen then?
Let me give you a spoiler: It is ok to be you. Start now.
Knowledge is an amazing thing.
So are flashes of insight.
New realizations as well.
But they are all mental concepts. Understanding something is not the same thing as really truly knowing it. And it is most certainly not the same thing as feeling it.
Knowing that you should love yourself is something completely different from actually feeling love for yourself. And even though the coaching that I do is more theoretical than practical, the real magic happens between sessions when my clients go out into the real world and actually experience the things that we have been talking about.
Because there is not much in this world that will convince of things more strongly than your own experiences. It is how we learn and make sense of the world. If something keeps happening we start to believe that is the truth of how things work – even if that’s not necessarily true.
If people in your past (parents, friends, lovers, crushes, exes) have punished you for being emotional, not respected your boundaries or disrespected your opinions, it is reasonable that this is what you will expect from new people as well – even though the bad behavior from your past says nothing about the future.
And what I’ve found is that new experiences can heal us. We can talk all we want about our issues and how to fix them, but actually experiencing what we long for – be it respect, someone’s full presence and attention, words of kindness or something else – will change and heal us in irrefutable ways.
We cannot argue with our experiences in the same way that we can argue with our thoughts or ideas.
Usually it feels really scary to challenge the patterns of old bad experiences, and my suggestion is to do it in very very small steps that feel challenging but not super scary. If your fear is around saying no, don’t start with your boss or a parent, start by saying “no thanks” when asked if you want a receipt when you go shopping.
If your fear is around meeting new people, maybe don’t walk up to the hottest stranger in the room to strike up a conversation, start by just looking people in general in the eyes for a second or two.
The beautiful thing about this is that every time you take one of these small steps your old pattern will break and the positive feedback you get from your new experiences will encourage you to try more new things. Eventually your entire world will change for the better.
What keeps us hidden, closed and excluded from opportunities in our love lives is usually fear. We don’t want to get hurt, it’s as simple as that. And even less dramatic than hurt, we don’t even want to feel embarrassed, anxious or nervous.
So we start to avoid persons, behaviors and situations that include even a small risk of that. Which, unfortunately, means that we also avoid the things that could lead to where we want to go. Because they co-exist in the same space.
You cannot choose “positive outcomes only”. Life does not work like that. You cannot just decide to learn how to ride a bike and refuse to fall a few times. You will fall, and then you will learn – and fall a lot less. It will be worth it, but you must say yes to the whole experience.
It is the very same thing in social situation. When you face your fears and start doing new things that you don’t yet feel comfortable with (more eye contact, going on dates, being vulnerable etc) you will feel a lot of things. Some of them will be unpleasant.
There is nothing wrong with that, it is just how life works when we try new things. Sometimes things in your life will be uncomfortable for a while. This is why it’s so important that you make a conscious decision to be ok with that. Because if you don’t you’ll pay a way to high price for something that will be even more painful.
I speak from experience when I say this. For a long time I rejected situations, people and maybe even life itself, because I did not want to feel certain things. I ended up being very alone with nothing but my fears and mindfucks for company. And that is when a realized that there is nothing out there that could be even close to as painful as locking myself up with my fears. Not even close.
So I decided to say yes. Even to the uncomfortable parts and decide that they are worth it. They are the “tax” I pay for getting to show up for all the wonderful parts. Sometimes I will feel rejected, shameful or stupid. It happens. It’s okay. I can say yes to that too.
Being openhearted, vulnerable and real is scary. For everyone. But the only thing that’s worse is closing yourself down.
So at least consider making a conscious decision to stay open. And say yes to all that comes with it.