Dating from the Inside Out
Dating from the Inside Out, by Paulette Kouffman Sherman, is all about making sure YOU are ready to date before you head out there and attempt it. Its core message is that you need to be at least reasonably happy and content with yourself if you're going to have dates work out well.
Think of it in this way. If you went out on a date with someone and they were mopey, grumpy and self-bashing all evening long, you probably wouldn't want to go on a second date with them, right? If on the other hand they were happy, fun to talk with and friendly to people around them, you would be quite interested in a second date. This is true for pretty much everybody. We want to be with people who are happy. So in order to succeed on dates (and in life!!) we need to be happy. That doesn't mean we have to find someone TO make us happy. Rather, we need to BE happy and then we will find someone who will enjoy sharing that happy life.
So Paulette's book goes step by step about how to build up your self esteem and escape from bad habits which have made you unhappy in the past. She suggests you start journalling, to keep track of your progress and watch out for problems. Programming that you've built up for years can be very hard to change - but it CAN be done. If your family teased you for your entire childhood about being heavy, it can be very hard to accept yourself as an adult. It really can be done though.
She brings up many good points that are important to take to heart. For example, if you rant to your friends all the time that men are all losers, you probably will end up dating losers. It's the way the human brain works. Bikers tell you all the time that if you stare at a wall as you go around the curve, focusing on it and worrying about hitting it, you are likely to hit it. What you focus on is what you tend to go towards. If on the other hand you focus on the road ahead, and focus on following the road, that is where you tend to go. Rather than concentrating on the negative, and complaining / focusing on the negative, you have to focus on what you want. Build up friends who have happy relationships, talk about happy relationships, and get into situations where happy people are. You will then find yourself in a happy relationship!
It's not easy, if you've gotten into the habit of bashing others or ending up with negative people. Paulette talks about an experiment where rats were put into a sealed cage and then cheese was shown to them. The rats kept jumping for the cheese but could not get to it. They finally gave up. Later even when they were out of the cage, they would not jump for the cheese. They had gotten too frustrated. Humans are like this too - they will give up after a while. Don't give up. Reset your mind to be positive, and focus on that.
Paulette points out that people dedicate a lot of time, money and energy to finding a job. They perfect their resume, spend months searching for the job and make sure they have made the right decision. But then these people might put no effort at all into finding a mate - they just want someone to "appear". Finding a great mate is far more important than finding a job. Put the same effort into researching your own needs and desires, making yourself as happy as possible, finding peace in your own world and then putting yourself into situations where people with common interests will be.
The key again is that you need to BE happy, honestly, for this to work. Yes, we all have issues that we want to work on. We want to be thinner or a better cook or whatever. You can't expect your partner to "fix" you, to validate you, to fix your problems. It is important for you to work on being happy with you and being the best you that you can be. You want to have positive, encouraging friends around you - but you also want to be happy being on your own too. Both are very important to being well rounded.
I like the idea of creating a "marriage ceremony" for yourself - to dedicate yourself to taking good care of yourself. We have many ceremonies in life - graduating from school, getting married, having a baby - but we don't have a ceremony really for "being an adult" and resolving to take good care of yourself. We really should. This is one of the most important things any person can do. It is really hard to care properly for others if you're not taking good care of yourself in the first place.
So with all of this great advice, are there any issues in the book? I did find a few things that struck me as odd. Pauline wants you to call up your exs and rant or yell or talk to them, to clear your mind. That seems REALLY unfair to me. Write them a letter maybe - that way they can open it or not. I don't think it's fair or healthy to force another human being to sit there and listen to your anger or sadness or whatever just because you feel like venting.
The book is very heavily leant towards women reading it. It does occasionally talk about men, but most of the examples are women, most of the references are about women. The family section talks about relating to dad - not to mom.
The book likes to drive you to therapy (or to signing up for her online classes). In one example there is a series of questions along the lines of "any man would be lucky to have me!" If you cannot say YES to 8 out of 10 of these questions, you should look into therapy. I don't think so! I don't *agree* that any man would be lucky to have a given woman. I think that for each person there is a *group* of partners that would work really well - but there is also a group of partners who would NOT work well.
Plus, in the dating in midlife section, it says a key benefit is that you "always wanted to be Mrs. Robinson". What?
Still, the core message here is very meaningful. Dating isn't about tricking another person into liking you. It is about being honestly content with what you are, and drawing in - naturally - people who want to be with you. I have really seen this approach work with so many of my friends. It works. It can be hard, yes! Many of us have self esteem issues. But if you take the time and energy to work on them, you will find that wonderful dating partners will follow quite naturally.
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