A few nights ago a friend of mind called me up out of the blue. She was on her way to a blind date and was absolutely freaking out. Understandably she was nervous about meeting a complete stranger for the first time but there was more. The thrill and excitement that dating is meant to bring was replaced with a feeling of discomfort and fear. The date was not a new exciting adventure; it was a scary and unwanted event. Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine allows you to start removing the continuous rubbing away that everyday can have on our happiness. For a singleton it can be waiting for the text to come through from your last date saying ‘when can I see you again?’. Or it can be the exhaustion that comes with trying to balance work, friends, fitness, dating, relaxation and food just to name a few. Mindfulness is seen as a buzz word right now with many assuming it will require them to become a practicing monk or yogi to receive any benefits. I’m here to say that anyone, and I’m looking at you my single ladies, can incorporate this simple and basic technique into your life to take the edge off all your stressed out moments and get you back to your life with a focus on the present instead of what could happen or what you cannot change.
1) Nerves Nerves Nerves (dealing with the jitters) Whether it’s the pre date jitters or just attempting to make a good first impression nerves can really cripple the adrenaline high that should be making you feel more in control and present. Don’t get me wrong; we all get the butterflies before a date with someone you’re really in to. However, letting them take your confidence away is not a necessary date feeling. Nerves are there to inform your conscious body that something serious is heading in your direction. When you recognise the feeling you can do one of two things:
freeze in fear and allow it to take over your thoughts and actions for the rest of the night.
Take a deep breath, recognise that you’re a bit nervous about your date and think positively.
No amount of ted talks or motivational speeches are ever going to get your thoughts out of the dirt and you thinking positively unless you use it like any other muscle and work it. Take a few deep breaths, recognise the sounds and smells happening around you, accept you are a little nervous and just breathe deeply and slowly. This should calm your heat rate and allow your physical rush to calm a little. But the biggest role is that of your mind. No Ifs or Buts. The future has not happened so just think about the now, right now. What can your senses tell you? Becoming aware of your current state and that of the world around you should help you realise that this date…is just a date.
2) Why did I wear this dress?? (Dealing with imperfections) Being self-critical seems to be a trait associated with females, especially when entering social environments. That’s not to say that men are not as bad if not worse at times. But I refuse to accept that it is an attractive or healthy thing to continuously beat yourself up over appearance.
Remember the phrase ‘no one can love you until you love yourself’. Well, it makes sense. You are the only person in your life that is with you from start to finish. Treat yourself with the respect and love you would want someone to treat you with.
What you are saying on the inside will slowly filter into who you are on the outside. I’m not saying you will become a bitchy person by being mean to yourself. But if you are continuously saying you look disgusting and your body is wrong for X or Y reason then you are going to exhaust yourself emotionally which can lead to physical stress and even physical responses.
There is a difference between self-criticism and recognising you’re not happy with something. There is a technique called Emotional Freedom Technique which is a way of relieving stress or other feelings. It uses tapping and in it there is a key statement you use to reaffirm ‘I completely and fully accept and love myself’. This statement sums it up really. Your body and your brain make up your presence in this world. If there is something that is a clear functional problem recognise it and take healthy and logical steps to change that. However, just mentally attacking your body like thinking ‘my legs are fat’ does nothing but hurt you on the inside. Instead of taking knives to yourself physically or emotionally give yourself a hug and say ‘I can do this’.
When you have those thoughts of unworthiness, self-deprecation or hatred take a deep breath and slowly breathe it out. See what you can see around you, what can you hear and smell. Are you touching anything, what does it feel like? Return to the actual present and say ‘I completely and fully accept myself’ out loud if possible. Because if you cant give yourself that hug it’s going to make being a single lady so much harder.
3) The Truth Some dates will be crap. They will be awkward and they will be boring and you will want to leave but there will be good ones, too. There will be ones you keep laughing throughout and ones where you leave wanting to talk more. When a date is bad, just accept it. Take a deep breath and bring yourself to the present through your senses. Keep those deep breaths going and remember to keep positive, either with humour or with a tasty glass of wine after (maybe both). However you move forward by remembering that deep breath! It is the key to your control.
4) I’m not pretty enough (seeking to be attractive) There is this long-standing confusion that people have between their physical appearance and their general attractiveness. Your body and how you dress it up is the first impression; that is the truth. But your personality and being you is also an attraction factor that really gets people interested. Ever started talking to someone and their passion or vocabulary just made you want to keep the conversation going get to know them? There’s no denying that physical attractiveness is a natural basis for who we like and so we seek to represent ourselves as an attractive person. But the inside can make a person want to get to know you just as much as looking good. If you are confident on the inside it is expressed through your body language and your communication. Loving and respecting yourself is a highly attractive feature in any person, and using the mindfulness technique allows you to return to a place where you’re just being you.
5) I will leave you with this thought Being single allows you to have opportunities to get to know yourself on a deep and very necessary level. Take this time, whether it’s four weeks or 4 years, to really get to understand you and put time into loving yourself. Mindfulness is a tool to help you stay and remain present so that no matter what is going on you remain in the driver’s seat as much as possible. And, like any adventure, the most important thing is to remember to enjoy it. This is your life and so make the most of it.
P.S My friend is now going on a second date with mystery man, and once I hung up the phone I knew she would be fine. She, like all of us, is strong and sexy and far more in control of her life then she thinks. Here’s to second, calmer dates.