He swept me off my feet.
We’d met a few months before; and I’d liked him immediately.
I was happily surprised to find him on a dating app a few months later. And even more surprised to see that he’d swiped right!
What to expect: 1000 words blog, a 6 min read. I tell the story of a recent dating experience and how changing the way we think and reframing our stories can short cut suffering.
He was handsome, funny, smart, sporty and kind. We had loads in common. When we met up it felt like meeting an old friend. A super hot old friend 🙂
It felt too good to be true. That he was all these things AND he was interested in me. For the first time in ages I felt a real connection and a spark of hope.
It all ended as quickly as it started. He went quiet for a couple of days, I sensed something was wrong.
We spoke and during our awkward conversation he cancelled his plans to visit the following weekend – or any other weekend. He couldn’t see me anymore – yet the reasons he gave didn’t ring true.
I felt hurt, mislead and foolish.
A couple of days later I sent a carefully worded email, gently asking for the truth, if he felt able to share it.
We spoke again, the warmth and care were back. He explained what he hadn’t been able to before. A friend in his home area who he had feelings for, also had feelings for him. He chose to pursue things with her and wanted to end things with me first.
In the past I’d have make this a story about my pain
When I’ve had similar ‘man related’ disappointments I’ve created a fair bit of drama and suffering for myself due to story I’d create around the events.
Self pity, ‘poor me’ syndrome would be in abundance.
I’d have thoughts like:
- This is how it’ll always end
- He was just using me to get her attention
- You’re not good enough
- You’ll never meet anyone
- All men are the same
- I wish I hadn’t ….
I’d have got stuck in a negative thought loop and, to add to my misery, I’d throw in a bit of comfort eating. Watch out Bridget Jones – Shona’s in town!
I’d compare myself to all my “blissfully happy” coupled friends.
These thoughts are a catalogue of cognitive errors (a cognitive behavioural therapy term) – including mind reading, awfulizing and ‘all or nothing’ thinking.
In reality how I FEEL and THINK are separate from the facts. How we FEEL and THINK are a choice.
Short cut the suffering. Re-tell the story with the facts
Rather than letting this scenario be a source of shame, I’m proud of my response.
I chose not to entertain my negative thought patterns. Instead I stayed with and accepted the facts.
- I met someone special and we enjoyed a time of warmth, care and connection.
- He has feelings for someone else and has chosen to pursue something with her.
- He is free to make this choice.
- I can’t change this reality so arguing with it is fruitless.
- His choice has no baring on my value, attractiveness or worth.
- I can choose to focus and put my energy into the things which are within my control.
I realise that I wrote a lot of this blog on a ‘upcycle’. I’ve since edited it to include a more recent experience:
At the weekend I ruminated on things and I let my thoughts set me back. To make matters worse after speaking to a friend at a party, I started to take on board other ideas that were not based on the facts as I knew them. This did nothing but prolong my pain and create unhelpful drama in my head. I temporarily lost my peace again.
I’m not saying that I have this ‘sorted’. I’ve struggled and working on my thoughts is very much an ongoing process. My thoughts can still drift but the important thing is that I notice and bring them back to reality.
Learning to use my brain differently
Looking back, in the past, I’ve wasted so much time and energy on the angst of heartbreak.
Yes, this short episode hurt – but so much less than it would’ve in the past. I wish I’d learned to use my brain properly years ago!
Do you ever find yourself arguing with reality?
“When you argue with reality you will lose but only 110% of the time” (Byron Katie).
I’m not going to tell “poor me” victim stories anymore. I’m not a victim. I’m one of the most fortunate people I know.
I want to be defined by and tell stories about what I can create, contribute and be in the world.
Notice the stories that you tell yourself. Are you the victim or the hero in your stories? If you are the victim, maybe re-examine your story, focusing on the facts and remember that everything else is optional?
In this story things worked out the way they did and that’s okay.
I’ve learnt some important things about myself – not only about my thinking but also about the qualities and level of compatibility that I’m looking for in a partner. Weirdly, in some ways this story has given me hope.
Of course it would have been lovely if it had a different ending. But I’ll have plenty more stories to tell. I like the idea of life as a Chose Your Own Adventure book. Remember those?
I’ve learnt and grown through it. And I hope that this will be useful if you have struggled with similar thoughts in the past.
As a personal trainer and weight loss coach I’m convinced that the most important muscle we need to work on is in our head. If we can get mind-set right, then everything else will flow from this.
I hope you’ve found this blog useful. If you’d like to read more of my thoughts or know when my next blog is out please sign up to my newsletter here: Newsletter Sign Up