Shifting Negative Single Life Thinking
When I work with clients who are single and not happy about it, there are a few trends that I notice that come up. One is negative thinking about the future and the other is the feeling associated with the "rejection". But there's potentially another way to consider these situations that you may not have considered. Let's talk.
"I'm going to be single forever."
Your friends (or your mom) may say, "No, you'll find someone." But I'm going to keep it real with you. No one knows what the future holds so I can't guarantee you that you're going to find a partner. With that being said, you can't guarantee yourself that you're also not going to find someone. See how that works? Making absolutes either way aren't based in fact.
A helpful exercise that I practice with clients is challenging their thoughts. There are a number of questions that you can ask yourself that help to test if you're being realistic with your thinking. One question that's helpful is "What evidence do I have to back this up?" In this circumstance, sure you're single now but that's all you have really. There's really not enough evidence for us to prove that this is true, that you'll always be single. If you were back in school and this was your essay, you definitely haven't proven your hypothesis of "forever alone".
The next question though, and this is what can sometimes help people realize that they're not being realistic, is "What evidence do I have against this?" For example, have you been in a relationship before and didn't necessarily see that coming when you were single either? Have you heard of stories where people didn't think they'd meet someone and then did? Are you psychic and know the future? Yeah, I thought so. So there are some possibilities of how this very well might not be true.
The thing about being dating is that you can't completely know your future success based on your past. Sure, there may be signs and patterns for you to spend more time evaluating and working through to improve your chances of a healthy relationship should a match cross your path. If you're concerned about your behavior patterns in relationships, I encourage you to discuss this with a mental health professional. Your therapist can provide resources as well as point out healthy and unhealthy patterns. They also will hopefully help you get to the root of why this keeps happening by looking at your history and narratives. But the other thing to consider is that dating is tough. You're not alone in that and you're probably not exempt. With that being said, even though you haven't found someone you want to commit to yet, it sometimes doesn't happen... until it does. Let that sink in for a minute. If your past relationships had been "successful", you wouldn't be single. So it's normal to have relationships that haven't worked and still be able to find one that does.
"The rejection is a lot to handle."
Liking someone who doesn't share your feelings is never fun. Okay, I'm being too kind- sometimes it just hurts. I'm not going to tell you it doesn't. Although the situation is painful, some people take this personally and believe that it means something about them. We create narratives where we're not worthy, lovable, or valuable.
But this is one person. You probably have a bunch of other people in your life that show you that you are all of those things you have now told yourself that you're not. It's unrealistic to think that everyone is going to like us. I saw an Instagram post saying that it's unrealistic to make everyone happy because you're not an avocado. And, wild enough, not everyone likes even avocados!! I know, I don't know why but *shrugs* what can you do? My point is that you're not going to be what some people are looking for but you are what others are looking for. We don't pay these people enough attention that continue to accept and love us because they don't fit in our narrative. We'll have 10 people telling us how great we are but the one person who says they're not interested sticks because we tell ourselves that we're not worthy, lovable, valuable, etc. We take these instances, stick them in our bag, and say, "See?! I told you this was true!" Yep, even when we deep down don't want it to be true.
What this also means is that the messages we say to ourselves are important. If we're looking and believing that we're great, we're going to be continually looking for situations that prove that to be true. And although the validation from others can feel and sound nice, it's temporary. You're in your head for 24 hours a day. So if it's one person telling you a nice thing, maybe it sticks for an hour. I'll even give you two... But then you come and say a bunch of negative things and bring up all the instances that support these bullying comments (ignoring the ones that don't support it) and who do you think is going to win? You're always going to win that battle.
But the other important part is that this is not a rejection at all. What this person did say is that you're not a fit for them. This doesn't mean either of you are right or wrong. It simply means that you're not meeting what I'm looking for. What you're probably forgetting is that there still are other people looking for you and all that you stand for. So be disappointed. I understand. Eat the ice cream and binge on old Insecure and Chewing Gum episodes. But remember that this is not a personal attack on you. You don't force the puzzle pieces to fit. You try and, if it doesn't, you put the piece down and find the one that does. That's the only way the picture works. And that's ultimately what dating is like too.
"But I'm single now!"
Very true. I get it. And again, I'm not going to tell you it's not uncomfortable or draining at times. However, there were some fun times too!
What do I recommend? Don't use this single time as the period before or between your relationships. Your life is worth living if you're single, dating, coupled, or married. So what have you wanted to do? Maybe make a bucket list and you may recognize that the majority of these things don't require anyone else to complete. There may be some things that are even easier to complete without being in a relationship. Don't let not having met your partner stop you from it!
Last word: Currently.
Words and thoughts have power. Pay attention to the times you're putting yourself down, saying mean things to yourself, or labeling your core self based on not being in a relationship. Currently... You're not in a relationship right now but right now isn't necessarily the rest of your life. Seasons change and so do many other things over time. Neither of us know what's around the corner so make sure that your words don't reflect a fixed mindset when your life isn't fixed.
#CBT #CognitiveBehavioralTherapy #SingleLife #Future
Photo 1: Photo byTyler LastovichonUnsplash
Photo 2: Photo byGabriel CrismariuonUnsplash
Photo 3: Photo byMiguel BrunaonUnsplash