Friday, June 24, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Is Procrastination Holding You Back?

It is so easy to recognize the clear path for others to follow ... and even easier to tell them what to do! However, when it comes to ourselves, at times we get stuck in the daily demand required to keep moving towards our goal. We can also become frustrated or less hopeful, and this mindset can hamper our progress, too. Additionally, when something is hard or if it is something we perceive as not pleasurable, we tend to find a myriad of other things to do first.

Consider the following thoughts if, on one hand, you would like a new relationship but, on another level, you are consistently procrastinating about pursuing this goal. (And, yes, if you want a new relationship, YOU do have to be an active participant in finding it!)

Don't feel guilty if you are not joining Internet dating sites, going out in search of your soul mate every night or always on the prowl for prospective dates. Guilt is a useless emotion and many a minute is wasted on it. However, do evaluate WHY you are not pursuing these and other options. For example, is it due to shyness or a lack of confidence about the dating arena or is it because you have not fully processed your feelings about a prior loss or another life event? At times, we procrastinate as a self-protective mechanism so we don't place ourselves in situations for which we are neither ready nor prepared.

Procrastinating can sometimes be the best course of action. Rather than impulsively jumping into a situation, you allow yourself the time to gain perspective, learn about yourself, establish better balance in your life and heal completely from past wounds. 

If you are feeling stuck in your efforts on finding new love, try to identify the obstacles delaying your success. For example, do you become anxious every time you merely thing about dating or having intimate relations with a new partner? To combat these types of feelings, work on strategies to allay your anxiety. At times, "practice dating" (fun but knowing it is not long term) can help you to become more comfortable in your dating skin.

Listen to the type of self-talk in which you engage. Do you have ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) invading your being? For example, when you think about dating, is your subconscious always telling you that you can't, you are not good enough, or you should feel guilty because you are betraying a late partner? As you examine these thoughts, attempt to reframe them into positive (vs negative) statements. It's the same concept as looking at a situation and seeing the glass half full or half empty.

Most people lead busy lives filled with many tasks and responsibilities. Evaluate if your procrastination is due to busy-ness leading to a lack of time and energy or simply the unwillingness to put forth the necessary effort. Decide if you just like the "idea" of a new partner but not the reality of an everyday relationship vs the true desire to find a new partner and build a life with him or her. If the latter is your priority then attempt to organize and streamline your other responsibilities to make time to pursue this avenue.

Friday, June 17, 2011

4 Dating Red Flags

For a change of pace, here is my blog in video format. 

Visualize a traffic light when evaluating new partners.
Is it GREEN for full speed ahead?
Is it YELLOW for proceed with caution?
Is it RED for stop right now and run as fast as you can?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reveal or Conceal?

In your everyday conversations, do you speak to conceal or reveal? Is there a right time to do one or the other, or should we always be an open book to all we meet?

In general, I am extremely straightforward and put all my cards on the table. I neither have the desire nor the time to play games. I query, "How can another respond to me authentically, if I am not authentic myself?" It seems like too much work to me to pretend to be someone whom I am not and to attempt to speak only what another wants to hear in hope that he/she will like me. 

If you "pretend" to be someone who you are not, and this false persona is liked by others, is it the real YOU that is liked? This dilemma seems to be part of the dance of dating, especially for Internet dating when you are really meeting strangers.  In this instance, it is important to strike a balance between revealing all and concealing pertinent facts. Of course, there is a difference between concealing your persona and protecting yourself by not revealing every intimate detail of your life story on a first coffee date.

How do you determine what to reveal and when to do it?

Part of the dating dance is unraveling the mystery of a prospective partner. If you believe each person you meet is a gift, treat him or her accordingly. Think of how a child might approach gifts under a Christmas tree. With bated breath and anticipation, he/she might shake it, turn the box over, lift it up to determine the weight, and stand back and admire the shiny wrapping paper. As much as a child may want to rip open the presents, he/she must wait for the appropriate time to do so. The anticipation, the dreaming of possibilities -- it simply adds to the excitement of the moment when the gift is revealed.

Let's relate that to dating ...

I believe you should always be emotionally honest, although, to tell you the truth, I scared many a date away with this honesty! That way okay, though, because why would I want to be with someone who couldn't "go there" with me? So, to me, this was a great weeding out process.

It is necessary to temper your honesty and your revelations with kindness, appropriateness, and a genuine interest in finding out more about your date. Although it should never be all about you, you can reveal WHO you are and how you approach life without sharing the war stories of your life until a solid meeting of the minds is met. If a true connection is made -- call it chemistry or whatever you will -- there will be plenty of time to reveal all. In the meantime, revel in the mystery of the story. It will make you want to come back to hear the rest of it! To me, this is the magic of chemistry. It ignites a need to know more about someone whom you find fascinating; you are an inquiring mind waiting for the rest of the story!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Past, Present and Future

As many of you know, my background is that of an English teacher, so the title of this blog sounds like we might be doing some conjugating of verbs!

Actually, conjugate has many meanings, and the one I'll concentrate on is to join together, especially in pairs (or in this case, triplicate!).

Think of your past, present and future like three pieces of paper all tied together with a string running through the middle of each. If you were to pick up one end of the string and dangle it in the air, the papers would not fly away for they are inextricably connected -- one leading to the next. And, although they each have an impact on the other, Marcel Pagnol states, "The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is and the future less resolved than it will be."

When remembering the past, it is easy to block out the negatives and recall only a rosy picture. This might also be how a widow/er remembers his/her late spouse. While it is good to cherish the love you shared with a late mate, it is also beneficial to be realistic about your lives together. This stops the syndrome some widow/ers develop: "My Late Spouse Was A Saint" and can open up the door to accepting new love. It is great to remember the past glowingly but not so much that it is romanticized and makes the present pale in comparison to it.

In the present, it is very easy to get caught up in the minutia of our lives. When there are so many tasks and so little time in which to complete them, one can get overwhelmed or not be able to see the forest for the trees.  You will encounter ups and down in every era of your life. At times, it is important to step back and see the big picture and put current difficulties in perspective so you can figure out the best way to move through them. Always remember that if you are not happy with your present circumstances, YOU are the one with the power to change them.

And then there is the future. If you are always worrying about the future, and this leads to chronic indecision, you can get frozen in place and end up taking no action. This, in turn, can lead to more worry. In essence, you've created a vicious circle that is of no benefit to you. While it is a very good idea to always have an "eye" on the future and take concrete steps towards your goals, it is equally important to live in and enjoy the present moment before it speeds by -- never to be recaptured again.

If there is a message to be gleaned, it is that you cannot change your past, but you certainly can learn from it. Use these hard won lessons to enrich your present experiences. Keep worry in check about the future as you build a foundation upon which to build it in the present.