I’ve always been a go-getter most of my life, now more so than ever. I have my parents to thank for instilling in me the self confidence to know that if I work hard at something, I can achieve just about anything I want to be and do. Consequently, I’ve achieved a lot. But the one thing I want most (since my vacation this past Summer) has eluded me — and that is to have somebody with whom I can share my life.
Love is a finicky subject, to say the least; to say it takes more than hard work to find true love is an understatement. Whereas most things in my life can be had with compromises if I really wanted them, compromising on who to spend the rest of my life with is not quite acceptable to me. In short, my quest for true love is a good test of applying the Stockdale Paradox.
The Stockdale Paradox states that one should retain faith that he/she will prevail, regardless of difficulties, while at the same time confront the most brutal facts of his/her reality, whatever they might be. So let me share with you how I’ve applied it to my life in the dating department.
To retain faith that I will prevail, I placed my current self in the spectrum of my entire life and took an inventory of my qualities, abilities, accomplishments and all that I have to offer to my partner. When viewed in that light, it’s not hard to keep faith that I will prevail in the end. The trick is to write them down and review the list often, especially during the time I feel less confident about my success. I also write letters to myself when I feel good and read those letters when I feel less good. The trick for me is to use the ebb and flow and ups and downs of life to my advantage and keep me and my faith buoyant.
To confront the most brutal fact of my reality (being single), I do something about it everyday. I force myself to be more social by going out and meeting people. I don’t do the bar and club scenes anymore, but I attend street fairs, house parties, and other social gatherings. And for days I don’t have anything in my calendar, I go to the bookstore/cafe to read. The most important part is I set absolutely no expectation of my activities other than to meet people I don’t already know. By doing something everyday, I was able to break down the daunting task of “meeting that special somebody” to just “meeting somebody”. Meeting people is the easy part, and that makes the reality that much more digest-able.
Notice in both instances, I proactively do something about my situation and at the same time place absolutely no deadline on my activities. The first part puts me in complete control of my situation, and the second part puts a distance between me and the things I cannot control. The combined effort gives me a renewed sense everyday that I will succeed in the end.
How about you? Have you applied the Stockdale Paradox in your life? If so, I would love to hear about it!