Finding Hope When Dating Gets You Down
If you struggle with finding hope when dating feels like an endless loop of disappointment, I’ve got you covered!
After a breakup or a string of bad dates (or no dates at all), dating can get you down. Finding hope can feel almost impossible at times. Here are my best tips for staying optimistic on your journey to finding someone special who brings a smile to your face and adds value to your life.
NOTE: I wrote this in 2012, a few years after starting my coaching practice when I was still seeing clients in my home office instead of virtually on Zoom. I was inspired by an episode of Oprah, which was still on network TV. She featured Michael J. Fox shortly after his Parkinson’s diagnosis. Much of what I wrote then still applies today.
Finding Hope When Dating Gets You Down
As I sit on my living room couch drinking my latte and luxuriating in a rare and cherished moment of peace, my eyes can’t help but focus on the gashes in the coffee table in front of me. This formerly charming country pine table is now a not-so-attractive eyesore. Every time a client comes to an in-person session, I am a little embarrassed about the scruffiness and scratches.
I realize it bothers me far more than it probably bothers my clients, and when they’re here for a session, I’m focused entirely on them and not the table. But this table does not fit with who I am. I’m always striving to align my life with my values, and that includes the clothes I wear, the furniture I own, the food I eat, and most importantly, my thoughts, actions and speech.
As I continue to gaze at the coffee table this morning, I begin to picture it sanded and cleaned, all scratches removed until the raw wood is visible. I envision myself painting this table in the whimsical style of the rest of the furniture that I hand-painted throughout my house. [Update: I painted it ten years later. Photos below.]
It occurs to me that this vision for my table is a metaphor for the struggles my clients go through. It’s so easy for us to focus on our outer “scratches”, to be embarrassed by the flaws we imagine others see in us. But those “scratches” are all external, and as Michael J. Fox said on Oprah yesterday, when you are sick, vanity is the first thing to go. It becomes so meaningless in comparison to the essence of who you are. Once you strip off the outer layers, the hidden beauty is revealed.
After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Michael J. Fox was still a dad, a husband, an activist. He also learned he was an author and an optimist, evidenced in his new book, Always Looking Up; Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. He worked hard at the optimistic perspective he now has, and it helped him to turn challenges into opportunities. Instead of becoming depressed and withdrawn, Michael became engaged in an emotional, psychological, intellectual and spiritual outlook of hope and possibility that has helped him throughout his struggle with this debilitating disease.
I am so inspired by Michael J. Fox’s ability to see the light in the darkness. And his great sense of humor has helped him thrive. The title for the book is a poke at his vertically challenged height. And the “incurable optimist” is of course a play on his so-called “incurable” Parkinson’s disease. Michael doesn’t really believe this disease is incurable, which is why he’s always fighting for a cure.
Sure, he is in pain a lot of the time, and the swing between the tremors and the frozen muscles makes for an extremely challenging life. But strip away at the raw essence, the proverbial beautiful coffee table underneath the scratches, and the inner beauty and light shine forth. One is no longer focused on Michael’s disease but on Michael the person, fully equipped with all of his unique gifts.
If you would like to start a new habit of looking “up” more often, here are some easy ways to begin.
- Make gratitude a daily ritual. Spend some time daily to express and receive gratitude for what you do have in your life. It is so easy to focus on what’s wrong in life, and gratitude helps you focus on what’s right.
- Give more to receive more. The more open your heart is, the more your heart will be filled. Make it a habit to do more good in the world. If you have children, be a great role model for them and include them as well. One easy new habit might be buying a few extra food items at the grocery store and putting them in a bag for the food bank. One of our grocery stores has bags set up for this.
- Be proactive. Spend less time bemoaning your limiting circumstance and more time figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other to move in a different and more positive direction. Keep on moving!
- Get help. You don’t have to do it on your own. Coaches and therapists are trained to help people who are stuck. Your friends would love to help you, too. Ask for help. Give people the gift of helping you.
And while it may not be possible to always be looking up, it sure makes for a more joyful life if we can focus on the positive. My clients continuously inspire me as they peel back the layers that were concealing their brilliant essence. The more they uncover, the more their light shines into this world. And the more we can all begin to look to the possibility of a world radiant with more hope and joy.
If you’re feeling stuck in dating and relationships and would like to finally find love, sign up for a complimentary 45-minute love breakthrough session with Sandy and explore how private coaching can help! https://lastfirstdate.com/application
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Get a copy of Sandy’s books, Becoming a Woman of Value; How to Thrive in Life and Love and Choice Points in Dating: Empowering Women to Make Healthier Decisions in Love.