Monday, November 18, 2013

Letters to a young man 29

Hello my friend. You've written to ask my advice. You tell me how you meet a girl, get to like her, and start to get close. Then you begin to feel paranoid that she will leave you, cheat on you, and so on. You tell me that a girl has never done this to you, but you suspect it is due to some childhood trauma or low self-esteem. Then, out of this desperation you cheat on the girl, a preemptive strike as you put it, and she finds out. Then it's over. You ask me,

"HOW do I stop the fear? The panic? The negative thoughts?"

Firstly, let me tell you that I've done the same thing in my past. I look at it as sabotaging the relationship. There could be many reasons why you're doing it. The paranoia that she's going to cheat may be a masking over the general fear of losing her and so you do the preemptive strike. Perhaps there are signs that she'll cheat. Perhaps they're all invented in your mind.

A central problem is a lack of understanding of what's going on within. This is just one manifestation of that problem. In what other ways might it be holding you back? Do you also sabotage employment or entrepreneurial opportunities? Do you fail to meet your potential in other regards because of this inner problem? Until you uncover the source of your issues, and uproot that source, your problems will continue to grow and cast a shadow on your life. Remember that you have much to work with that is positive. In allowing the darkness to take hold you are forgetting the inner strength that is always available. You may not see it— it may take much time, pain, and effort before you are able to see it and wield it.

I'll offer up this advice: it's running from the fear which is controlling you and getting the best of you. You should let it engulf you. What I mean is that you should try and sit with your fear and panic. Don't try to escape it. This is counter to every impulse you have, but you need recognize that following your normal impulses is leading you astray. For example, doing a preemptive strike is your way of trying to escape the possible outcome that she will leave you. This is all driven by your fear. These things feed on one another. Therapy was very good for me in dealing with these things and you should not shy away from it. I can also very much recommend reading stoic philosophy— there are links to works by Seneca and Marcus Aurelius on my blog. My book End Game may be of some benefit as well. Ultimately, reading is just one part of a whole. You must include taking stock of yourself and in trying to understand what is causing the fear and panic in the first place. Then, in letting it take hold you begin to eliminate its power over you.

As the saying goes, "Lose the battle and win the war".

I am writing a new book that I hope will shed some further light on the process as I have experienced it. Let me close by saying that you have better within you than you may think: in order to find it you need stop everything and sit quietly until your grief and loss subside.

Farewell for now, my friend.

My book on stoicism.