Dating : How To Figure Out What Matters

h2>Dating : How To Figure Out What Matters

Step 1: develop self confidence

John Gorman and I both have brand new, shiny columns in P.S. I Love You, and last week John announced he’ll be using his to answer reader questions.

I probably won’t take that approach with my own (because I know myself, and I’ll get negligent or resentful or both), but I do enjoy him doing so and pretty much immediately planned to lift the occasional Q from his posts’ comments (especially those I liked and he didn’t address.) I shot him a quick text saying so and I’ll be honest: it was a statement, not a request for permission.

Anyway. This week I liked the one asked by S SD:

“If I had to throw a question I’d do the typical lame one… what matters?

…it seems that life itself always comes down to prioritize what matters in your life (relationships, passion projects, career, etc.) and FOCUS on that. My stupid question is, how the hell do you figure out what matters? All of those matter to me and yet I can’t help thinking that I am wasting my efforts on X when I could be doing Y.”

*sigh.* Okay, Bastian… okay.

Here’s the thing: this is a question simultaneously so complicated to answer that it brings me to almost instant rage… and also so simple to answer that I’m equally mad about it even being asked.

But that being said, I will try…

I know who you are.

You want certainty.

You also want security, support, and reassurance.

You’re afraid more often than you care to admit, and uncertainty defines your life more than you’d like. At your best, you are steady. But one of your biggest downfalls (perhaps even blind spot) is that you try to build certainty, stability and security without resolving your own insecurities and anxiety.

At your worst, you are conflicted: you are both strong and weak, fearful and courageous, trusting and distrusting.

You are anxious.

You worry about things like the planet, politics, obesity levels and death. And yeah, you worry about things done “right” — and “wrong.” Incl. by you.

You are at odds — with yourself and the world

With authority — who to believe, and who can be trusted (maybe nobody! and yet you want to believe in somebody.)

You have trouble contacting your own inner guidance. As a result, you do not have confidence in your own judgment.

I’m not judging the fact that you have demons. We all have demons of some kind. All I’m saying is: this is one of yours.

You feel indecisive, ambivalent and self-doubting.

This almost means you look to others or “authority” (though you probably think of this as “best practices” or “the right way,” “the way it’s done,” or “guidance”) to make decisions. (You may also feel a little peeved or defensive that I would suggest or imply there’s anything “wrong” with doing so — “it’s called ‘best’ practice for a reason, after all!”)

And this makes sense, because even while you seek answers, security and certainty, you’re simultaneously probably also a bit suspicious of others.

All of which means: you find “decision-making,” including prioritizing, or understanding what matters, a bit overwhelming.

(This means “adapting” is also one of your demons. Which makes sense, because if you struggled to make the decision in the first place, you’re almost certainly going to struggle all over again when you have to change it.)

I’m not saying I don’t have demons, because I definitely do. This just isn’t one of them. (If anything, I have the opposite problem: I do too much of what I want, when I want.) Which is why I can say with certainty: this is how you have to be to feel self-assured and self-confident in your own decisions. The challenge is: it’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem. You get confidence from decisions, but you also need confidence to make them.

The answer isn’t to wait on magical “certainty” to appear. The answer is: try.

Here’s an example of how you almost definitely already have this skill set:

Let’s say you want to bake a cake. What are the things that immediately “matter” in baking a cake? Well, let’s walk through it together… for one, the occasion. (Why are you making this, and for whom?) How long do you have? What kind of experience? (Don’t these seem like obvious questions on things that might matter in baking a cake? Great. They should.) From there, we have even simpler logistics: what kind of cake are we baking, and which of the ingredients do we have on hand? etc.

But let’s also consider the following: would you get sidetracked thinking shit like, “but wait! My favorite food is potato chips, though!” What about, “I’m almost out of laundry detergent!” Or “someday I’d like to get a little dog and name him Paulie…” And if you later walk into the grocery store and see free samples for fucking peanuts, do you stop in your tracks, paralyzed, and gasp, “peanuts?!? but wait, I’m baking a cake!!”


Because do any of these things matter? Do they have any actual implication on you baking your damn cake?! Would you get hung up on any of this while doing so? No. Of course not! And my point is: you know this! (And if you seriously and honestly don’t, or you’re trying to make some case for, like, “well what if now I want to make a peanut cake or a potato chip pie or something???” then you need to get your shit together. Adapting to potato chip pie is like Level 14 and you’re clearly still struggling with Level 1 here. Stay focused.)

This is all peanuts — both literally and figuratively.

I mean, look, I’ll share insight, but we both need to understand and recognize that, in the long run, me (or anybody else) providing answers and articles is doing more harm than good.

The solution isn’t to seek answers from others. And the solution also isn’t to demand more “clarity,” “definition” or “specifics” — not for “what matters,” or “how to know what matters,” or anything else called out in this post.

The reason seeking more specifics from others is that no amount will ever silence the lingering question in the back of your own mind: what if.

What if they’re wrong, what if there’s new information, what if “I am wasting my efforts on X when I could be doing Y.” What if something else matters more?

You think that the answers to these lie outside of yourself, but they don’t, because they are a neurosis. The answer isn’t in getting more and more (and ever more) external guidance. The solution is in developing your own code.

Cut the power to that “tell me specifics” spin cycle. It’s only in you.

This is the only sustainable way. This is the only way that gives you an actual framework that you can build upon with each new encounter throughout your life, without having to run back to a source or wonder, “well shit, now how do I navigate this?”

This is the only way to make everything as obvious as baking a cake, and for everything else that doesn’t matter to stand out as the peanuts they are.

Ready for some tips? Great. Your first inclination is almost certainly going to be “BUT HOW, THOUGH? I NEED SPECIFICS.” Try not to do that. Try to listen; absorb; understand.

The hardest part about this is that it is the exact opposite of what feels normal or instinctive, and that feels terrifying.

But it’s the only way to grow.

  • Relax your damn choke hold on “specifics” and “certainty.” You need to understand that this is a neurosis, not a virtue.
  • Recognize (and then let go of) your “confirmation bias.” I know that is feels self-satisfying when one of your “what if?” fears turns out to be true (and it can feel similarly “spirally” if a “what if” fear lingers unproven, true or false, without closure), but you need to let it go and move on.
  • Recognize that when you succumb to self-doubt, you “become your own worst enemy and may harm yourself more than anyone else does.”
  • Stop overacting. Relax.
  • Trust more. Relax.
  • Seriously, RELAX already.

Fact: the world is always changing. You do not control this. Stop trying.

Fact: nothing is ever certain (well. taxes; death) and the world does not owe you certainty. Waiting on the universe (or anybody in it!) to define itself for you is a lifetime of anxiety and inaction.

As hard and unintuitive as it seems, the answer is: peace.

Make peace with the fact that nobody has all the answers, and then build up your own sense of certainty by trying things and watching as they work out.

You can do this. You already do.

Read also  Dating : First date at 30

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