I’d like to introduce you to Jane (not her real name). Jane and I first met when she was in her late 30’s and living a full, stimulating and fulfilling life.
As a busy doctor with her own practice, Jane invested heavily in her life and career; she took herself on regular holidays, had monthly massages and facials, she ate healthy food and exercised regularly.
She was a woman who knew how to date herself.
But Jane had developed a negative habit. A mental pattern that had emerged over years of putting herself and her career first. Jane’s default reply to anything that even resembled a social invitation was NO.
Being a part of a wide and active social circle, Jane was regularly invited to all sorts of activities. From weekend hikes, to relaxed brunches, from champagne sundowners to film festivals, she routinely knocked back all offers. This habit developed gradually over many years.
In her 20s she was typically studying or paying her dues as a junior doctor in the hospital system and social events were just not on her radar. As she drifted into her 30s and her busy practice took off, she all but disappeared from her social scene altogether.
Jane had made herself socially invisible. Not surprisingly, she had not had a date for a very, very long time.
We worked together on Jane’s mindset. She had spent many years hard-wiring her brain to say NO in the name of self-protection, and unbeknownst to her, self-sabotage.
It took a while for Jane to become consciously aware that this was her pattern but when she did, it was like a giant neon heart-shaped light bulb started flashing above her head.
Now, 20 years of habitual behaviour is hard to change and it takes time. So Jane and I agreed on one small change:
She would say YES to a social invitation ONCE per week.
That’s all. As simple as that.
At first, Jane found this annoying. She had built up a very independent life and was not accustomed to spontaneous social events interrupting her well-planned life. She felt quite conflicted about being true to her own commitments versus stepping outside her comfort zone and becoming a social being.
I assisted her to sit with the Free Floating Anxiety and just go with it.
As the weeks progressed, each YES became a little easier. She started small, a one-hour coffee here, a 45-minute beach walk there. After a couple of months, Jane started looking forward to the next invitation and in fact, started initiating social connections with her friends.
She was starting to awaken her own playful and relaxed side (a side that had been asleep for a long time).
So at around the 12-week mark, Jane was totally relaxed when her friend invited her to a gathering of people from a totally new social group.
In the past, she would not have even considered attending, but her confidence had built over the past few months, she had enjoyed some great conversations with new people and she found herself bubbling with anticipation about the new social arena.
It was a relaxed BBQ in a friend-of-a-friend’s home. Jane melted into the new environment and gently connected with a range of people from different backgrounds. She loved the feeling of excitement she felt before meeting each new person, the anticipation of what was to come.
When Jane met Rob, another doctor, she naturally fell into a comfortable conversation, talking shop. Although they had medicine in common, they lived very different lives. Where Jane had built a safe cocoon for herself and stuck to a rather strict life routine, Rob worked all over the world and enjoyed a spontaneous, adventurous lifestyle.
She was drawn to his openness and courage, traits that she knew she had but were hidden deep inside her.
Their conversation developed and Jane found herself becoming attracted to Rob.
Now that she was in her new Zone Of YES, Jane took a risk. She suggested that they catch up for a drink some time after the BBQ and Rob agreed.
Jane and Rob started dating and spent the next few months stealing moments whenever they could. Jane really enjoyed the feeling of opening up and letting him in. She still felt a twinge of discomfort each time she changed her routine to see him, but she persisted and enjoyed the ride.
Rob was involved in a number of international projects so before long they were in a long distance relationship.
After a while, Jane realised that she wanted more. Having been through such a self-awakening journey and arriving at the point where she believed she was ready for love, she didn’t want a part-time lover.
She ended it with Rob on good terms and stepped into a more proactive social and dating life, ready to meet her next big love.
Last time we spoke, Jane was enjoying casually dating a few guys and taking her time to find the right person for her. She had cut back on her hours in her practice, had hired an assistant and was starting to live a more balanced life.
And all this eventuated by just saying YES.