After you’ve decided to move on from partial matches in some area of life and you’ve declared your standards raised henceforth, you can still relapse. The old habits can seduce you back. This is incredibly common. People usually do relapse one or more times before they strongly lock into a new standard of behavior.
You may declare “no more misaligned jobs” or “no more misaligned relationships” and mean it. A few months pass, and you may catch yourself thinking about applying for jobs that would be predictably misaligned… or you feel tempted to lower your relationship standards when nothing aligned is showing up.
One reason is because the new behavior takes practice to fully integrate.
You have to practice saying no to the partial matches, but your mental pathways were previously trained to say yes to them. It will take time to decondition the old patterns and strengthen the new approach. It will feel uncomfortable and awkward to say no to partial matches at first, but it does get easier with practice.
You also have to practice inviting the full matches you really want, but your old mental pathways have grown accustomed to pre-settling for what you think is more accessible. So it will feel uncomfortable to ask for more.
A second issue is that you have to learn to deal with time pressure, social pressure, and financial pressure. Many people bow to pressure by lowering their standards, believing that any match is better than none. But of course if you try to deal with the pressure that way, you’ll remain stuck in the old patterns that didn’t serve you.
So you also have to practice dealing with pressure differently. Don’t lower your standards just because bills are piling up… or your parents are pushing you to get something going career-wise… or you’re seeing your friends pull ahead of you.
You need to create a different relationship with these kinds of pressures. Instead of invitations to lower your standards, see this pressure as a test of your commitment. You pass these tests by standing firm – or even raising your standards higher – not by caving in and retreating to your ineffective past methods.
Really this pressure is internal. A bill is just a piece of paper or an email. A parental nag is just a sound effect. These aren’t real threats, even though they may feel very visceral to you. Your own framing is encouraging the circuitry of your own mind to get in your way, creating internal blocking patterns. To avoid relapsing again and again, you’ll need to change how you deal with these ineffective thought patterns. See them for the traps they are.
If you wish to make your own conscious choices and create a life that aligns with your standards, you can’t let lesser standards continue to rent space in your mind.
If and when you do relapse, it won’t feel good, and you won’t like the results, but you’ll still learn from the experience. Relapsing after you’ve glimpsed higher standards will help you see the problems with your old approach. You’ll better understand just how ineffective your old standards were; you’ll see that they’re never going to serve you well in the long run. So the benefit of relapsing is that it can help you recommit to your new standards and stop investing in partial matches.
Lastly, another shift to practice is to see your higher standards as normal, not as exceptional. Seek to frame your new standards as your default, everyday, run of the mill behaviors and habits. Do your best to stop seeing them as special or extraordinary, or you’ll only push them away.
Take early rising for instance. I like to get up at or before 5am almost every day, including weekends. Most mornings I’ve done at least an hour of running by 6:30am. Some people see this as exceptional, and so did I when I was first training myself to do this. But that type of framing isn’t helpful. It’s best to regard such a habit as normal if this is something you want to do routinely without relapsing.
Seeing any habit as a stretch is just going to encourage relapsing. So do your best to welcome and practice the framing that your new standards are normal and routine, not exceptional. You can still love and appreciate those habits – just see that love aspect as normal too. 🙂
When you see people doing work that lights them up motivationally, contributes in positive ways, and generates abundant income, do you think they’re lucky or exceptional? It’s a mistake to frame it like that. You ought to see this type of experience as normal. That will help you lock it in and not relapse so much.
My world is rich in people who do aligned work, so I actually do see this as normal. The dark and scary part of the corporate world that makes people feel depressed or stressed about going to work – that’s abnormal and weird. The journey away from that world seems like a perfectly normal and sensible path back to health, sanity, and happiness.
One reason people relapse is that they still regard their old approach as normal. If you still think the old path is normal, you’ll be tempted to go back to it. If you frame your old standards as abnormal, stupid, deranged, ineffective, lame, and so on, you’re more likely to avoid relapse.
Do you see it as normal to explore your kinky sexual desires with a compatible and motivated partner or partners? Or do you think it might be a bit perverse to explore the true depths of what you might enjoy? Can you see it as normal to have experiences and partners that turn you on? Can you also see it as weird or perverse not to explore what you really enjoy? Moreover, can you see it as weird, perverse, or repressed for people to judge you for consensually exploring with aligned partners?
Would it feel exceptional, weird, or deranged for someone to call you Master or Mistress each day? If so, then you probably can’t have that experience, and if you did manage to go there for a while, you’d soon relapse back to vanilla life. That’s fine if you want a vanilla life, but what if you’d really enjoy something kinkier that feels like a stretch right now? Well… seek to frame it as normal – the truth is that what you frame as a stretch experience is indeed normal for many people. Why not decide to join them?
Personally I don’t like the kink framing much because it frames interesting desires as abnormal or unusual. A kink is a sharp twist or curve in something that’s otherwise straight, so it’s framed as an abnormality by definition. Consequently, I tend to toss that framing back towards the other side of repression – I think of highly religious people as the kinkiest ones out there; I regard them as the most twisted members of humanity.
Normal doesn’t have to be boring. You can create a fun and lively normal that you appreciate, especially if you regard daily appreciation as normal too. Framing such experiences as normal just makes it easier to invite them and to continue experiencing them.
Remind yourself of why you want to progress to higher standards. One good reason is to make happiness, satisfaction, and appreciation normal for you. Experience more of what you want, and appreciate it each day. Note that your old behaviors didn’t achieve those standards, so it’s time to elevate your behaviors to meet your new standards.
Reality is capable of giving you a lot more, but if you make it clear that you’re willing to settle, it will let you relapse – repeatedly – until you reach the level of inner commitment that makes relapsing essentially impossible for you. Then reality just gives up and brings you what you want.
Other human beings also find commitment appealing and attractive. People are more likely to invest in helping you get what you want when they can tell that you’ve graduated from your relapsing phase.
Relapsing to your old standards should feel as creepy as voting for Trump – not something you’d ever do. If you’re still tempted to do that, you’re one kinky and deranged masochist.