As a dating coach, I continually find inspiration in the world of entrepreneurship, where courageous and motivated individuals create, build, and shape ventures. I like applying what I learn about entrepreneurs to the world of dating. The entrepreneurial process of taking the reins and building and shaping something meaningful (as opposed to waiting and wishing for change to come to you) is one that I talk to singles about often as I coach them to build and shape their dating ventures (adventures!) and love stories.
Recently, I came across a piece on Forbes about mentally strong people by Cheryl Conner, an entrepreneur and communications expert. The article lists out 13 things mentally strong people avoid and was adapted from a list by Amy Morin, psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker, compiled for LifeHack. Conner wanted to show the readers how these items are particularly applicable to entrepreneurs.
I'd like to continue this theme and show how each of these items is applicable to daters (dating entrepreneurs as I like to call them) and the dating world.
Mentally strong dating entrepreneurs don't...
1. Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves. Morin writes: "You don't see mentally strong people feeling sorry for their circumstances or dwelling on the way they've been mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair." Mentally strong dating entrepreneurs don't sit and wallow in their dating sorrows or repeatedly curse their circumstances. They give themselves time to grieve over a disappointment or setback, reflect on what they've learned, dust themselves off, and put themselves back out there, smarter and more empowered for what they've experienced.
2. Give Away Their Power. Morin writes: "Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad. They understand they are in control of their actions and emotions." Mentally strong dating entrepreneurs don't give away their power to those they date; they don't allow others to make them feel unworthy of love or respect. If they sense a new partner is making them question these things, they walk away with their dignity and self-respect intact.
3. Shy Away from Change. Morin writes: "Mentally strong people embrace change and they welcome challenge." Mentally strong dating entrepreneurs acknowledge that the unknown is scary but they also trust in themselves to be able to manage and move through changes in themselves and their dating lives. They recognize that change in their thoughts and actions can bring opportunities and exciting new possibilities, that to evolve and adapt is a good thing as scary as these changes may be. They understand that the process of change may be uncomfortable, but they also recognize that their old ways of thinking and acting will never allow them to move forward and create the type of love they want for themselves.
4. Waste Energy on Things They Can't Control. Morin writes: "In a bad situation, [mentally strong people] recognize that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well." So, too, do mentally strong dating entrepreneurs recognize that the only thing they can control in their dating and love lives is their own thoughts, feelings, and actions, and that to attempt to control another human being and how they think, feel, and act is futile, unproductive, and exhausting.
5. Worry About Pleasing Others. Morin writes: "A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up." Mentally strong dating entrepreneurs understand that they need to bring positive qualities to the dating world, such as thoughtfulness, kindness, and friendliness, but they also trust in and listen to their needs. They have a voice and use it when necessary to communicate their needs to dates and in budding relationships.
6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks. Morin writes: "A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks. This is a different thing entirely than jumping headlong into foolish risks." Mentally strong dating entrepreneurs understand the difference between taking necessary risks versus unnecessary risks as they build and shape their love stories (a concept I tackle in my forthcoming book Skin In the Game: Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur to Find Love). They understand that they will need to make themselves vulnerable and take chances in ways they've never done before, but they learn to not risk in ways that have repeatedly led them down unhealthy, dangerous paths. See this poem.
7. Dwell on the Past. Morin writes: "[Mentally strong people] invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future." While mentally strong dating entrepreneurs recognize that their past can be instructive and seek ways to unpack and understand how their past has affected their present, they also understand that analysis without action and experimentation is unproductive. So they take action in the dating world (armed with the knowledge from their past) and act their way into new ways of thinking and new possibilities as they move forward.
8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over. Morin writes: "A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes." Mentally strong dating entrepreneurs take the time to reflect constantly on their thoughts, feelings, and actions in the dating world. They don't just go through the dating motions like a mindless dating zombie but are self-reflective and are dedicated to building self-awareness. Conner writes: "Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs." So, too, for dating entrepreneurs.
9. Resent Other People's Success. Morin writes: "Mentally strong people have this ability to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people's success." Mentally strong daters do their best to keep their envy and jealousy of others' dating and relationship joys in check and learn how to be happy for others' happiness. And if they're really smart dating entrepreneurs, they may even seek to learn from these people's experiences, in terms of how they created healthy, happy relationships, applying these lessons to their own lives.
10. Give Up After Failure. Morin writes: "Mentally strong people are willing to fail again and again, if necessary, as long as the learning experience from every 'failure' can bring them closer to their ultimate goals." In the entrepreneurial world, this is called "failing up". In the dating world, mentally strong dating entrepreneurs learn to see their failures as assets, and are committed to learning from them and then building on them. I like to call this trial and error process of dating my "Date. Learn. Repeat. model of entrepreneurial dating", through which daters learn to take action, learn from their actions, and then act again, building on the knowledge that they are gaining through their actions to eventually create a healthy, happy relationship.
11. Fear Alone Time. Morin writes: "Mentally strong people enjoy and even treasure the time they spend alone. They use their downtime to reflect, to plan, and to be productive." Mentally strong dating entrepreneurs also recognize the power of reflection time. They don't seek to busy themselves every second as a way to alleviate their loneliness or to avoid having to reflect on their lives. They take time to unplug; they go on long walks or take long showers or take long drives in the car with the radio off or journal or just sit in quietude, as they grapple with the questions to which they are seeking answers.
12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything. Morin writes: "Mentally strong people enter the world prepared to work and succeed on their merits, at every stage of the game." Mentally strong dating entrepreneurs understand that they don't happen upon love through luck or serendipity. They understand that they make their own fate through the beliefs with which they choose to fill their minds and the actions they decide to take. They understand that creating a healthy, happy relationship takes time, effort, experimentation, and commitment, and they are willing to invest in themselves at every stage of the "dating game."
13. Expect Immediate Results. Morin writes: "Mentally strong people are 'in it for the long haul'. They know better than to expect immediate results." Mentally strong dating entrepreneurs recognize that to expect immediate results when certain toxic core beliefs or habits have been entrenched for years is unrealistic. They understand that the love story (their love venture!) they are building and shaping is a journey and try to appreciate the steps along the way.
Becoming a mentally tough dating entrepreneur takes time and practice and commitment and ownership. As I explain in my forthcoming book, Skin In the Game: Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur to Find Love, the entrepreneurial approach is based on the idea of practice. You become a better entrepreneur by practicing entrepreneurship. And the same is true for dating entrepreneurs. You become better at dating and creating connection (and any of the things you deem need improvement in your dating life) though practice and experimentation.
The aforementioned items are all ones that I have committed to practicing in my own entrepreneurial life. How can you start working on becoming a mentally tough entrepreneur in your dating life? For some of Morin's exercises on increasing mental strength, click here. These are all exercises I work with clients on when coaching them to build and shape their love stories.
So get to it all you budding, mentally strong dating entrepreneurs!
Neely Steinberg's first book Skin In the Game: Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur to Find Love will be out in January 2014.