“There is no shame in being single. It’s not a curse, or punishment. It’s an opportunity.” – unknown
“If you are going to break up with me, you better do it before I’m 30”.
Those are the words I said to my boyfriend 5 months before my 30th birthday and 3 nights before he broke up with me.
I was determined, the sooner we broke up, the sooner I could find the right person. After all, I was headed to my 30s and was convinced time is running out. (Sorry, this isn’t a post about why I didn’t just do it myself – maybe another time though.)
I remember when we broke up and I declared that I don’t want to be single and I wanted a boyfriend – soon!
As you can tell, I had a lot of thoughts (and fears) attached to the idea of being single and 30. It didn’t cross my mind that this dreaded combination might be the best thing that ever happened to me. Of course, in hind-sight the idea of being in the wrong relationship due to the fear of being alone is madness.
I’ve long forgiven myself for letting those thoughts lead how I lived my life. These days, the thoughts still exist, but they are not allowed to make any decisions. I learned that the hard way.
I had to put the work in to get here though, mind.
Since you are here, I will take a wild guess that you relate more to the fear?
It’s the automatic thoughts that come with being single that I want to focus on. Here are a few examples for you:
The thing is. These are just a few of the thoughts I have and my online community and clients have told me they experience too. So let’s just put it out there, we feel the pressure, some people more than others.
It can actually be a teeny bit annoying when everyone around you tells you, “You WILL have children”, “The right person is around the corner”, “Stop being silly”.
We’re not always being silly and irrational, we’re simply stating the possibilities. You see this post isn’t about rainbows and butterflies. I’m not here to tell you, your single years are over if you just follow these simple steps.
This is not a post about helping you find your person, it’s about helping you get out of the anxious loop of worrying about your future (instead of living) and basing all your worth & happiness on a relationship, and marriage and kids that may or may not ever happen.
The tips I am going to share have given me the power to be in control of my life, appreciate the relationships and things I do have and put me in a stronger position to attract happy, healthy connections.
Let’s be clear before we go on – I still have these automatic thoughts. I am in an amazing place in my life and they still roll in, albeit; they are few and far between. By now I am pretty skilled at catching my thoughts before they have the chance to spiral (well, maybe 85% of the time anyway).
It’s important you remember; we can’t stop automatic thoughts coming into our mind. It’s our job not to feed them but you cannot physically stop them.
If you want to break the loop and squash the thoughts, you will have to open up the space to have a new conversation with yourself. Begin to question the inner dialogue and come up with new answers and challenges.
Here are my top tips of managing your thoughts/fears/worries about being single and 30+:
You have to get your head in the present moment and accept your reality. If you are constantly fighting the fact that at this moment in your life, you are single, then you are going to live in your head and miss the current moment you are lucky enough to have. Going over and over the same story is not going to help. It is amazing what happens to your energy when you stop resisting reality and come back to the here and now.
Question the thoughts. Ask yourself if this thought is true.
If the thought is persisting and you are stuck on a loop, remember what I suggested earlier – have a new conversation with yourself.
Question whether this thought is 100% factual – and be honest. “I will be lonely forever”, “I am unlovable”. You can’t see into the future and every single person is born with the ability to be loved. If it is not 100% true, give yourself a break.
Take Back Control
Take the Weight off of your thoughts – You are giving them too much power.
Allowing them to run away with a made-up story and a bunch of lies.
If you are going to take one job seriously, it’s to not believe your automatic thoughts. Brene Brown (Author of one of my favourite books: Daring Greatly) calls them your ‘Shitty First Draft (SFD)’
Honestly, most of them are just made up based on your past experiences and fear. To learn more about your thoughts, read my blog post Overcome Negative Thinking: 3 Facts you Need to Know about Your Thoughts.
Get some perspective on the situation. You are a good person who is worthy of real love, affection and respect.Your age does not change that.
For most people, being single is just another experience that comes with being alive, as does getting older. Your age is not an indication of when the right person is going to come along.
The truth is, there are people in relationships wishing they were single and there are people that have settled. Take a step back and force yourself to see this from different perspectives.
You Are Not Alone
Please remind yourself you are not the only 30+ year old single person in the world. It’s ludicrous to believe anything else.
Thinking you are alone with these thoughts is 100% false. When you experience the thoughts of being the only single person in the world and that everyone else is getting married, it really doesn’t take much to remember millions of other people are single in this world and not everyone is getting married.
Be mindful of where you put your focus. Both being in relationships and being single come with highs and lows, good and bad.
If you are only going to focus on the positives of what you don’t have and the negatives of what you do have, of course you are going to feel low.
Where you put your attention influences your mood. Similarly, with perspective, take the time to focus on the positives of your situation. Write a list, so next time the thoughts of needing a relationship to be happy creep in, you can pull out your long list of the positives about being single.
Catch Yourself & Do Something Different
If you want to let go of this anxiety and break the cycle, you need to do and/or think something new. You have tried the current way, and look at the results? You need to develop more awareness of your thoughts, otherwise it is going to be a tough cycle to interrupt.
What are your triggers for these thoughts? – Couples holding hands in the street? Romantic comedies? Seeing a newborn on Facebook? Whatever it is, knowing your triggers prepares you for the automatic thoughts. When they come in – that’s your opportunity. Before they grow and take over. Either start the new conversation as we have mentioned, shake it off (literally play your independent women (or men) playlist) or distract yourself. For me personally? I simply say “Nope, it’s not happening, we’re not going there”.
Create a Life You Love
I can’t say it enough. You don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. Create a life that you love. Of course, if you are only focused on dating and finding the one, then you are going to feel lost without it. You have nothing else to enjoy or bring you happiness.
Do not give up on your life just for the experience of being single. That is such a waste, and you will look back and wish you made the most of these times.
Chase your dreams, do things that light you up and stop waiting for another person to come along before you are going to enjoy this. I hate to break it to you, but even if someone does come along, you can’t guarantee they will stay, so create a WHOLE life now.
Avoid Shoulds and Musts
Try to ban the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ from your vocabulary. Tune in to these thoughts. Are the automatic thoughts even your opinion and values? So often these beliefs are not even your own. They come from your parents, siblings, peers, teachers, younger self etc.
I grew up determined to have children so I could give them the childhood I didn’t have. Identifying this belief was key; it isn’t because of some huge maternal instinct; it was a ‘need’ based on fixing something I can’t fix.
If you determine it is a true belief and value you hold, then consider acceptance, perspective, hope and a new action plan.
Value Your Happiness
Consciously value your happiness and wellbeing. Make an active decision that these thoughts are not allowed to steal your happiness.
Spending your time worrying and making up stories of what your future looks like is not putting you in a good position to attract the right person. We are much more attracted to people that are happy and living their life. So do it now.
Commit to yourself this day forward, that single or not, you are going to show up in your life the best you can, no matter what birthday you are approaching.
This one gets a bit of a bad rep doesn’t it? But what’s the alternative, to spend your life thinking there is no hope? Trust me, that will make for a miserable life.
I’m certainly not saying to put it all on hopes and dreams and expect Mr/Mrs Right to come round the corner and knock your books out of your hands. But a bit of hope will take you a long way.
If you really do believe the thought that there are no good ones left, then I guess you are wasting your time worrying anyway and you might as well get on with your life 😉
Honestly. Love Yourself. Not only will this help you to say no to the crap and yes to healthier relationships, it means you will find a whole new kind of joy and happiness. I outstayed relationships and put up with mediocre treatment because I didn’t know my worth. I wasn’t able to stand up and wholeheartedly say ‘I deserve better than this’. Now I can. It makes being single worth it. Why settle when I know how happy I am alone.
The more you love your life, the less those thoughts will have meaning. A life you love disproves 90% of those thoughts. So get to it; what does a life you love look like? How do you show up? Change what you can change and take steps towards being that person. Make those things happen and watch what happens to these automatic thoughts.
That is 12 ways for you to shift your mind-set. Like I said, yes you feel an external and intenal pressure, yes you want to find love, but you can not dedicate 100% of your time to this and expect to be happy in the meantime.
Spiraling, worrying and comparing yourself is not going to speed the process up. In fact, it will slow it down, put you at risk of settling and leave you feeling despair.
I coach people on this very topic. To find out more about overcoming overthinking, click HERE.
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Let me know in the comments what mind-set tip you will be trying first.
Carly Ann xx