Is THAT the Same Tree? What To Do When you KEEP Going in Circles
I have a personal growth practice that totally works for me; I’m sharing it because I hope that you’ll try it and that it’ll totally work for you. So, what is this practice? I call it “memo to the file”. It’s really simple and that’s what I like most about it.
When I am working on something, but I know that I won’t be able to finish it in one sitting, I write a note to myself when I come to the end of that work session (Stay with me; this post isn’t about work). In that note, I document all of the outstanding parts of the project, including why I couldn’t finish them that day. I also include lingering questions that I might have, directions about where I need to start when I come back to it, and the overall purpose of the work. I started this practice because I found myself in a huge timesuck whenever it took me more than one work session to finish something because I couldn’t remember what the details of what had happened before. I hated this because this turned into a time and productivity setback. Now, let’s change gears: I decided to write a memo to the file for my dating life because I was experiencing time and productivity setbacks!
First, I kept finding myself going out with men who I knew I wouldn’t really let myself love because they didn’t satisfy my dealbreakers. I was violating them in the name of, “But he is nice”; but, I didn’t want those men. What’s more is that when I would meet men who didn’t meet my deal breakers, I would start anticipating my resentment toward them for what they were not from the get-go. I knew it wouldn’t end well because I was outwardly wishy-washy, which frustrated the guy, while already being internally settled on “not him either.” Second, there was one dating experience that I can only describe as a dog returning to her vomit time and time again. THAT GUY was the epitome of disappointment, in almost every way. But, like an idiot, I kept entertaining his calls and his requests for dates.
I decided to write “a memo to the file” after that guy had pissed me off one day. We were supposed to get together at lunch time, and he sent a text 30 minutes before he was due at my house saying that he was in New York (we live in the Philly area) and that he had gone there the day before for a family emergency. So, I was like, let me understand: you went to NYC YESTERDAY and you’re just letting me know?! Mind you, last minute cancellations and showing up super late or calling me on super short notice had become his MO. Frankly, I was hot: this was him just being his regular disrespectful self. Even if his aunt hadn’t gotten sick, he would’ve been super late or cancelled because that is what he’d always done.
I spent that day reflecting on my failed romantic attempts and being angry with myself and decided to memorialize my feelings. I wanted to feel just how shitty I felt instead of calling one of my friends to talk about how annoyed I was and laughing it off. I wanted to look myself square in the face and admit that I was not enjoying these “situationships”. I wanted to hear myself say to myself what I would say if I was observing someone else making the same choices and having the same outcomes. So, I wrote it down. Some of what I had to acknowledge was painful and embarrassing because it was self-inflicted. I acknowledged that I was drawn in because I liked the hopefulness of flirting. I also owned how stupid I felt when that guy would cancel at the last minute because he did it all the time(when people show you who they are, believe them). I owned how I felt even more pissed off at accepting that behavior because I didn’t even really want him; he, too, fell short of my dealbreakers. I was putting up with crap from a man I didn’t want all because I wanted male attention. How dumb!!! I also owned that my contradictory behavior around my deal breakers really came from a lack of confidence in them. In giving my number to these men (who weren’t losers, but just not for me), I called myself being open-minded and looking for the guy who was so awesome that I could overlook the betrayed deal breaker: chile please. In writing that memo, I also realized that part of this deal breaker debating came from trying to prove to others, including other women, that I’m not a bitch or uppity. As I wrote that memo, I noted the nonsense of my behavior, the negative emotions, and how all of this back and forth undermined my self-confidence. From that day to this one, I haven’t seen that guy again. I haven’t even spoken to him – unless you count a DM wherein he asked me why I’d been ignoring him and whether he’d see me again.
I never want to experience those feelings again, especially when I see and know it is coming. Finally, and call me judgmental, but when a new guy asks me for my number, I ask him three fundamental deal breaker questions: there is no need to have my number if those answers aren’t right. Yes, there are more than three deal breakers, but the core ones must be met from the get-go. If even one of those answers is off, the answer is no….even if he’s handsome and funny. Frankly, I have come to believe firmly in the soundness of my criteria, and I don’t care to talk to someone who will undoubtedly try to change my mind.
I realized two things that day:
1) When you spend time arguing over your convictions, you aren’t really arguing over the belief itself. The problem is that your conviction isn’t really a conviction. When you believe something whole-heartedly, you don’t get into debates that serve the other party. When you change core values, you have come to that change without force, shame, or coercion.
2) The fleeting shame of a spending afternoon honestly looking at and combing through my vomit was worth it. Yes, this is a disgusting visual, but that’s exactly what I was doing: getting out of my system the stuff that was making me sick.