I had an interesting coaching session the other day that I’d like to tell you about. My client (we’ll call him Steve) is a marine who returned home from Iraq earlier in the year. While overseas, one of his best friends became paralyzed from a stray bullet. Unable to deal with the emotional pain, he ended up committing suicide.
As you can imagine, Steve was absolutely devastated. While his girlfriend supported him as best she could, his depression and negativity put a major strain on the relationship. A few months later, she decided to break it off which made things a hundred times worse for the poor guy. All in all, a very sad story on many levels.
When most guys come to me for breakup advice, they’re usually looking for a magic line or phrase that somehow erases the past and gets their girl to run right back to them like Lassie. Unfortunately, my advice isn’t always what they want to hear.
For instance, the very first step I recommend to my breakup clients is that they let go of all attachment to their desired outcome. While often dismissed as “new age nonsense” this step provides powerful results for those who put it into action.
For some reason, after you let go completely and allow yourself to accept the fact that your relationship may be over for good, the chances of winning your lover back will increase dramatically.
There are many theories about why this works, so I won’t expand on it here. But I will say that I’ve found this mindset to be helpful, not only with relationships, but in ALL areas of life. Because of this, I suggest you make a habit of embracing detachment.
So what is detachment exactly and how do you get there?
When explaining this concept to Steve, I brought up some parallels to his military training. For example, the military will condition you to act appropriately on the battlefield, regardless of what’s going on in your environment. No matter how anxious or scared you might be, you have to stay focused on the task at hand to ensure that you and your team make it out alive.
Now one of the first things a soldier must do is make peace with the worst case scenario – for many, it’s losing their life on the battlefield. But after he completely accepts this possibility and stops resisting it, it will no longer have any power over him. From that point forward, he’s much more likely to act appropriately IN SPITE OF his fear.
This process doesn’t just apply to military combat. In Steve’s case, I explained that he needed to make peace with his biggest fear: that his girlfriend ends up hating him forever, falls in love with someone else and never speaks to him again. A tough pill to swallow, yes, but acceptance of this outcome will help him minimize the typical neediness and other attraction-killing behaviors that most guys display after a breakup.
So how does one go through this process? After selecting your doomsday scenario, you should go ahead and picture it vividly until you can feel the resulting negative emotions. Once you get to the point where you’re about to lose your lunch, ask yourself honestly, “Is my life now truly over? Is this REALLY the worst thing that can happen in my life? Won’t I eventually move past this?”
Hopefully, it will start to dawn on you that while coming up short undoubtedly sucks, you’ll inevitably find the strength to cope with whatever happens and find a way to move on.
If you have trouble believing this, don’t forget to remind yourself of the past disasters in your life and the ways in which you overcame them. Since it’s so easy to forget our accomplishments and victories, an occasional reminder of our awesomeness helps create the confidence we need to shrug off our setbacks and disappointments.
So you may not get that job you want? Oh well. You’ll find something better. Your significant other might be cheating on you? That would really suck, but it’s their loss and you’ll eventually find a more loving and loyal partner. Grandma refuses to bake you cookies? Ok, this one’s pretty serious.
All kidding aside, once you free yourself from your fear of the worst case scenario, you’ll be more likely to make the decisions that will help you avoid it altogether. Fear immobilizes us, keeping us stuck inside our heads and cut off from our flow state. By embracing the fear, you can easily hop over the hurdles and create the outcomes you desire.
And if you have trouble accepting the worst case scenario, realize that you’re most likely blowing things out of proportion. It might be helpful to imagine all the ways your life could be a million times worse (be thankful you’re not getting shot at on a daily basis). Once put in perspective, most of our problems are actually pretty laughable.
Before I wrap this up, I want you to think about how empty your life would be if uncertainty didn’t exist. As much as you might believe otherwise, you’d probably be bored to tears.
Since our obstacles and challenges give us an opportunity to feel alive, welcome your next one with open arms as you realize it’s just another opportunity to show the world how powerful and resourceful you are (something to keep in mind the next time Grandma shuts off the oven and kicks you out of the kitchen. 😉 ).
*This post is dedicated to all the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives so people like me can sit on our asses and write blog posts from the comfort and safety of our own homes. There’s no way any of us could ever thank you enough.
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