The secret to effective self-help is understanding what advice is intended for you and what isn’t. As I’ve written before, advice is only helpful if you understand yourself and where you are relative to it. The key to effective self-help is a high level of self-awareness. The ability to honestly assess whether that advice is meant for you or not. Accurately tagging incoming information as “it me” or “can’t relate” can make all the difference.
Because just like taking someone else’s prescription drugs without seeing a physician and getting an accurate diagnosis can backfire and make you more sick, following advice that addresses a problem you don’t have and ignoring the one that you actually do can backfire. And make things considerably worse.
For self-help to be effective, you have to be able to take an honest look at yourself, listen to the people in your life who are telling you difficult truths (and not just the yes men), and identify the problems you’re actually having. Instead of clinging to addressing the one that you’d rather have.
This is something I’ve said many times — but not because I’ve always taken the right advice. In fact, I’ve had to come to terms with the reality that I have been taking the wrong advice in one arena.
I Spend A Lot of Time Worrying About Losing Lovers Out of the Blue… But I Never Do
“I don’t know what happened,” they say. “One day she was here, and everything was great. Our relationship was perfect. Then she was gone without warning. I never suspected anything had changed or that she was unhappy. It came out of the blue.”
This is a perfect nightmare scenario for me — one I’ve spent the majority of my life bracing for. I’d be in a relationship that made me insanely happy and seemed to be incredibly fulfilling to the person I was having it with, only to wake up one morning and find them suddenly gone.
Yes, I’ve lost people — but it hasn’t been a surprise. Even the sudden changes, I had some kind of early indicator that something was up, even if I wasn’t sure at first what.
Judging by how often I’ve heard of this happening to other people and how much I’ve dated in my life, I figured it’d have happened to me by now, that I would have been totally blindsided by a breakup. But I haven’t been yet.
This doesn’t mean that I haven’t had relationships that didn’t work. I certainly have. I’ve been through breakups. But if anything, I’m the person who tends to notice trouble in a relationship early — and either point it out and work through it — or if it’s unworkable or the other person doesn’t think it’s a problem when I bring it to them multiple times and it’s making me terribly unhappy, then it might be time to end things.
I shared this disconnect with a colleague a while back, and she laughed, “Page,” she said, “that scenario is a lot more common with people who aren’t sensitive to other people’s needs or open to being told something they don’t want to hear. That’s not you. So while it’s technically possible that it could happen to you, it’s highly unlikely. It’s really not something you should be worrying about so much.”
Easier said than done, I suppose. The worry persists, even though I consciously understand it’s not a good use of my energy. Hopefully, it’ll fade with time, especially since I’m committed to not feeding this fear anymore (although I suspect the naughty thing might still sneak a bite or two when I’m not looking).