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Three Ways to Get on With Single Life

Harlan Jacobsen Copyright © 2003

There are three ways to adjust to becoming single again. 

The traditional method of adjusting to divorce or the death of a relationship is to take two or three years to get back to a normal, well- adjusted happy life. That is method number one and the one we feel is a great waste; offering alternatives is the heart of what this paper is all about.

Time is what our lives are made up of. Time is our most valuable asset. Life is just too short to lose a large portion of what could be our "best years" in a period of misery, strain and unhappiness. We can call method number one "Time Heals Everything" (usually), and if nothing else works, this one usually does, though some get hung up for years or the rest of their lives in some stage of adjusting and never really cope. 

Method number two is to take brute force and grab yourself by the seat of the pants and literally make yourself do what you need to do but donít want to do. This takes a great deal of self-discipline, which most donít have, and results in extreme stress, strain and anxiety. You will be uptight all the way. It works and gets easier as you go, but takes its toll in physical maladies and illnesses from being under the stress of change. It uses up enormous energy and may cause an overall drop in your job efficiency and output and other effects.

This is number two, and we can call it "Grabbing the Bull by the Horns." One of the reasons it causes stress is because the changes and new things we are forcing ourselves to do are outside of what is known as your comfort zone - a term borrowed from the heating and air conditioning people who install automatic thermostats that turn on cooling when the temperature gets above 75 and turn on heating when it gets down to around 65 in the room.

Our personality comfort zone is determined not by a thermometer but by our self-image. As the Peter Principle says regarding jobs, people often rise (promoted) to their level of incompetency. In this example, they are out of their comfort zone regarding feeling competent to handle their job and are under constant stress, come down with ulcers, etc.

Similarly, if we have made the decision that we are sup posed to have a terrible time as a single, be terribly lonely the rest of our life, and that we wonít be able to compete, then that is what we visualize and expect and our subconscious mind accepts that. It becomes a program and our subconscious gets to work to fulfill it. It will sabotage us every time we try to do anything not in line with that programming. That is visualization. You have never seen or visualized yourself as a successful happy single with lots and lots of friends. You have only visualized being miserable and alone. Then What You See Is What You Get.

By worry and other negative visualization, and by negative self- talk, your subconscious is in effect instructed to guide you to bring about the very things you are afraid of. Your subconscious does not allow you to stray far from that comfort zone of what you have shown it you are supposed to be. Your self-image may have been tied down to the fact you are Mrs. John Jones, a married homemaker, excellent mother, etc., and that is it. Becoming a happy successful single person is not your image; in other words, you donít see yourself as a happy single person. Your subconscious sees to it that you wind up right back in your comfort zone of whatever your image ("Thatís me") is supposed to be.

If your self image is "must be married," your subconscious desperately tries to recreate it. You have made the decision that as a single I am supposed to be miserable, and we now know that whenever we make a decision, we automatically start gathering evidence to justify ourselves and back up the correctness of our decision. So we start gathering evidence and gather every little clue that says, "See, being single is bad, just like I decided."  

Letís say my self-image is, I can speak to a group of fifty people comfortably. Two hundred people are more than I am used to, so I am out of my comfort zone. I will be under stress. I will be uptight; the communication between my conscious and subconscious is cut down and when I need it the most, my subconscious is not helping and I forget what I wanted to say, etc. With two thousand people - even more so. Yet you and I know that talking before a group of 2000 is no different than 50, except that itís out of my comfort zone.

If you see yourself as being lonely, miserable and having a bad time as a single, then your comfort zone will be being with other people who are having a bad time of it. Being with happy, successful singles will be uncomfortable for you and youíll be under stress with that group. You will tend to want to go back to having coffee with Sad Sally, who is still bemoaning her fate. You will be comfortable with Sally.

If your image is -- I am a happy, successful single person, then you will not be in your comfort zone doing things or being with the sour grapes single people, and you will tend to move over with the happy group, which fits your new "I am a happy, successful single person" image. 

Now when you force yourself to do what doesnít jive with your self- image and your comfort zone, then you are going against your subconscious and it ties you up in knots (stress). You are anxious and every move against your old programming is a strain. If you use method number two, "Grab the Bull by the Horns," then you need to learn methods for controlling stress - basically how to control the stress before it does bad things to you.

Grabbing the bull by the horns does work and can shorten the time to get on with a great new life, because by forcing yourself to get out and do things you should do to be successfully happy and fulfilled, soon you will accidentally have some good experiences despite your subconscious and then you will start to change your self-image to "Hey, maybe I am okay as a single," and you can start to see yourself as a happy single person. Then your self-image is gradually brought up to all the new things you are doing and you say, "Hey, thatís the new me." The result is less and less strain and eventually none, as your self-image catches up to your (initially forced) new life. 

In method number three, in contrast, it all happens quickly, automatically and with no strain. We call this method simply "Changing Your Programming" (your self-image) by visualizing what you want. Start seeing yourself as a happy successful single person with lots of friends, etc., or whatever it is that you think makes a happy single life. Close your eyes several times a day and visualize yourself doing things and having things happen that would make you happy as a single person. To avoid confusing your subconscious, you must tune out and turn off all thought of misery, etc., as a result of your new solo life.

Shortly your image of who you are and what is supposed to be happening to you will get through to your subconscious. Once that happens, your subconscious will see to it that you start doing the things that will bring it about. You will start doing the things that make for a happy successful fulfilled single life and you will start doing them automatically and have a lot of fun along the way. You will not be uptight or uncomfortable and under strain like you were on method number two because you are not going against old programming. Your subconscious is working and directing you from your new self-image which you have been getting across to it by visualization through spaced repetition over and over again.  

You know people who are using method number one -- staying home, licking their wounds for months or even years, and not getting on with a successful single life. Eventually, we hope, time will allow them to get out and adjust.

We have all seen the newly single person who has been dragged out or who kicked themselves out of the house because that is what they needed to do to get on with being single. We have noticed that they were extremely up-tight and many well-adjusted singles avoid them because, "Hey, Iím past that, and I donít need any more negative input."

Then we also know some people who seem to be able to get out and get right into single life happily, people who are using method number three. They see themselves as going to be a happy successful single person, and they get right out and get with fulfilling that image, and have a lot of fun doing it.

Those using the second method of forcing themselves out have to be admired and some hang in there long enough until their self-image catches up to their new role. Initially they are uptight but that changes rapidly when they hang in there, forcing themselves to do what they need to do to adjust. When their self-image gradually changes, their comfort zone moves too and then they can just be relaxed and not have all the stress.

When your image is changed to "Iím a successful happy fulfilled independent single person," then your comfort zone will not longer include anything that doesnít fit that and you will move over to and do things that fit and live out that happy single person image. In other words, your comfort zone has changed and then you do things to fit that image with no strain or stress because that is what your subconscious says you are supposed to be doing.

If your self-image is "I am a lonely, undesirable, unable to cope single person," you see yourself all alone for the rest of your life. Now the comfort zone that goes with that is staying home, complaining to your few remaining friends or fellow employees about your fate in life. Youíre under stress if you go out doing so-called "fun things" with other singles. It will be a lot of stress and uncomfortable because it is not in your self-imageís comfort zone.

When your self-image is, "Iím a newly single person enjoying my new freedom, etc.," then staying home all the time or hanging around with other "not coping" singles who sit around complaining will not be in your comfort zone and you will be under stress there and will tend to move over automatically to exciting things that fit your new self-image and be comfortable and at ease doing it, because "thatís like you."



If you are single and well-adjusted, but having some trouble dating, you might look at this from that stand point. One single man who comes to the singles dances only once in a great while, seems to have a self-image problem, or a programming foul-up that is getting in his way in relationships. He really is a fairly nice looking fellow, doesnít smell too bad or anything like that. Yet he gets turned down asking women to dance 4 or 5 times in a row. He gets rather crushed and goes home early and we donít see him again for three or four months.

I am wondering if he doesnít have a self-image that says, "I am defective somehow. Women donít like me." If his programming is that women turn him down, then his subconscious has accepted that as an instruction and promptly makes it come true. It helps him select all those in the place who will turn him down. It becomes self-reinforcing. "See, they all turned me down when I asked them to dance."

Now his programming is even deeper. Next time he makes it out again, his subconscious is even more sure he is supposed to be turned down by women, so it will be even better at saying all the wrong things and selecting all those who will turn him down.

Think about that; maybe you are doing that to yourself, too. Maybe this gives you an insight into what we have said in other articles - - that is isnít what your ex did or is doing to you that is causing your problem. It is almost certain that your problem now is what you are doing to yourself. We call that being your own worst enemy, when you could become your own best friend.


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