Hello everybody, welcome to episode 45 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino.
Today we have a question that came in which asks about the interesting dance between feeling our best, yet still feeling something is missing. It’s a tough dance to avoid no matter how well things are going, so we’ll break it down and talk about it a little more all thanks to the following question…
QUESTION: “Dear Greg, I have been on this incredible journey of personal development for a while now and I have never been happier. The only thing that still is on my mind is finding my “soulmate.” I am a big believer in “everything is meant to be” and “timing is everything,” but how do I stop daydreaming about the person I am going to find? I feel like these thoughts are often distracting and make me feel as though my life is not truly complete until I meet someone. It would be much appreciated if you could shed some light on this. Thanks!”
Personal Development and Relationships
You’re so very welcome. Happy to be of service. First of all, congratulations on your journey so far. Very glad that it’s led you to a happy place and that you’re feeling on top of your game!
Ironically, personal development lovers seem to get spit out on the other side of that pretty frequently, so I’m happy that you’re happy.
But yeah, this contrast is weird isn’t it? Believing that everything is meant to be on one hand, but on the other hand, not feeling complete if you don’t find someone.
About Personal Development Gurus
For anyone that throws themselves into personal development, it’s important to realize that it’s not really a means of cleaning your slate, ya know?
Personal development gurus might trick you into thinking that one seminar will change your entire life, but they don’t. Sure, you can learn skills that you can take with you to gradually change a lot about who you are, but your past and your beliefs from the past will always be a part of you.
What I’m getting at is that although you’re on this personal development journey which is doing a lot of good for you, there’s nothing wrong with being caught up in your longstanding values and narratives about life being about love and happiness only being found when you’re with someone else. So welcome these thoughts; they’re you and they’re natural. Real development is more about accepting these things rather than trying to change them. Any real change won’t really occur without that acceptance as a prerequisite.
Our Need for Social Connection
All that being said, connection is huge. Sure, if you’ve listened to this podcast at all or if you’ve dabbled much in any personal development stuff, you’ve probably heard that you need to be happy with yourself first and foremost; you have to be whole before you can fully give yourself to another, and all that stuff.
And it’s true, but that doesn’t change the innate yearning for connection. What you and I both know, though, is that connection can’t be forced. There’s a lot you can do to find a romantic partner, but ultimately, you can’t control every part of the equation.
Connections with Others
So what we’re going to focus on first here are the things you CAN control when it comes to feeling connection.
Yeah, romantic connection is very specific, but where else can you find connection in life that isn’t as difficult? Make sure that in your pursuit to find love, you aren’t overlooking the connection found in friends, family, pets, or maybe volunteer work.
I don’t want to call them substitutes, but there are a lot of other outlets like these that can provide with a great sense of connection and companionship, but don’t get the same credit or glamor that romantic love does. While you wait for romance to show up or not show up, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re not seeking connection in these other ways.
Filling the Void Without a Soulmate
But that’s all supplementing, right; family, friendships, pets, volunteer work and whatever else? Adding more of those things into your life fills the void of loneliness, but it doesn’t change the fact that a void is still there.
It’s like if you had a big hole in the sand — the hole being loneliness. And then you fill the hole with rocks — being the different types of connection. You can walk across now — hopefully the rocks aren’t too jagged. But it’s clear that there’s still a hole there. And don’t come at me about how sand is actually just crushed up rocks, I don’t want to hear it.
The problem is sorta fixed, but it could be better. There could be no sign of a hole whatsoever.
So in addition to adding connection into your life in whatever form you can, it’s also helpful to remove the hole altogether — to change the way you value or think about loneliness instead of just patching it up. As I mentioned at the beginning, it’s important to honor your feelings and realize that there’s nothing wrong with you for having them, but you can still try to make them healthier at the same time.
The Benefits of Being Single
Maybe this means reflecting on all the good things about being alone that are more challenging if you have a partner. Maybe it’s about considering all the wonderful things you’ve done in the past that you couldn’t have done if you were with someone. Maybe it’s spending more time with other happy singles and getting a feel for how they handle it.
Over time, these types of concentrated efforts bring new experiences that offer a new perspective on the benefits of being single — just the same as the experiences you’ve had once upon a time that offered you a perspective on why it’s better not to be single. It’s a trade off of experiences, and experiences are the best ways to alter values.
“The Invisible Anchor”
Now the final caveat worth mentioning; of course there’s always something. I have this term I like to use called “the invisible anchor.” I actually haven’t used it in a while, so maybe I should get back into that.
The invisible anchor is any single thing or concept that we trick ourselves into thinking will give us that final sense of everlasting security.
For many people, it’s a loving relationship. For some it’s a job, for some it’s a move, for others it’s a sum of money perhaps. Any item that tricks us into thinking it will solve enough of our problems that our worry will be permanently be deafened is an invisible anchor…and it’s a SCAM.
Perfection Doesn't Exist
There is no such thing. New problems will arise, new concerns. Whether or not you meet the love of your life, you’ll likely keep finding reasons to feel your life is incomplete anyway.
There’s always something that we want to add, there’s very rarely that sense of perfect contentment where we might say, “yes, my life is a 10/10 and I wouldn’t change a single thing.”
Of course, we should all continue to seek things which we feel are meaningful so as to make the problems we do face as good of problems as they can be, but there will always be problems and shortcomings and reason to feel our lives are incomplete nonetheless. While a loving relationship can be one of the best things that happen to us, they’re still just moving pieces and thus shouldn’t be allowed to define our lives too much.
My friends. If there’s one takeaway I hope you…take…away…from this episode, it’s that this viewer’s desire for a partner is easily interchangeable with anything that we feel we need to make our lives complete and thus the way back is all the same.
Honor your feelings. Accept them. And if you really would prefer (not demand) that they be different, see what you can do to both fill the gap and change your feelings about the gap.
Hope that’s all clear. If you have your own questions to send in, go ahead and do it. You can email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We love hearing them some keep ‘em coming. We’ll send you a free book from our collection, as well.
Have a great one, everybody. Hope you’ll stop in next time!