My brief jaunt into the singles world after my divorce was fascinating. I don’t do anything halfway so after my divorce was final I went all in. I signed up with a bunch of dating apps, joined some Facebook groups, and started going to mid-singles activities.
Let me digress a little here for those of you who are like “mid-singles activities? What the …?” I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We don’t believe in sex outside of marriage. And we don’t drink, “party,” or go to bars. So what exactly do we do? And how do we meet other singles? We have activities. Some are church-sponsored, most are not. They are just planned by members of the “group.” A mid-single is between the ages of 31–45 (18–30 are YOUNG Single Adults”, over 45 are just “Singles”). And these activities include all sorts of things like dances, volleyball, plays, game nights, hot springs, hiking, movies, speed dating, etc.
It was weird. I was almost 40 but felt like I was thrown back into the teenager world. Whenever my kids were with my ex, I was putting myself out there. So I met a LOT of single people. Some had never been married. Some had been divorced. Most were members of my church with extremely varied levels of belief and activity in the church. And most of them did NOT enjoy being single. Most of them were not thriving.
At the time, I was somewhat baffled as to why everyone else seemed so miserable. I didn’t love everything about being single but for the most part, I felt like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was free to be me, totally and completely. And it felt amazing.
Now I know exactly what was going on. Are you ready for another gem that completely changed my life? Circumstances are neutral. Being single isn’t positive or negative. It’s completely neutral… until you have a thought about it. Most of the singles I came to know thought being single was negative. Their heads were full of negative thoughts about being single.
Positive affirmations are all the rage these days. But you can only think a positive thought about a negative circumstance for so long before your brain rejects it. It just won’t ever stick and you’ll find yourself back where you started. The very first step is understanding the circumstance is neutral… and that you can think whatever you want to about it.
I loved being single because of my thoughts about being single. Most of the people I met hated it because of their thoughts about single. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, some of those same thoughts that served me tremendously when I was single are the very ones that made things difficult for me after I got remarried.
Here’s a great example: my ex was not the cleanest person. One of the things I enjoyed the most, from the moment he moved out, was how clean my house stayed. It was amazing! I love having a clean house and it was so easy to keep it clean. Focusing on how much I loved this and how amazing I felt when the house was clean helped me love being single. I was completely in control of how clean my house was. Remember, I still had two young children and they didn’t exactly pick up after themselves. To keep my house clean, I was constantly cleaning up after them. But it was MY house, and MY responsibility. There was no one else to have expectations of. It was all up to me and when I cleaned it I did so with joy and energy and light, because I loved the result I was creating.
Fast forward… I’m married again. And my new husband is not the cleanest person. Instead of just cleaning up with joy like I did when I was single (taking care of my own needs) I have expectations (the manual) that my husband will clean up after himself.
Guess what? I can still take care of my own needs! Being married doesn’t make me incapable. I’m the one who enjoys a clean house. And I am still “completely in control of how clean my house is.” Why on earth would I choose to foster resentment towards my hubby when I can choose to clean up with joy and energy like I did when I was single?
Our human brains are so fascinating, right? Do you see how I’m making myself miserable? My husband doesn’t feel my frustration, my annoyance, or my resentment. Only I can feel my emotions. So I’m choosing to feel those things instead of choosing to feel joy. All because of my manual.
I know some of you are thinking, “but that isn’t fair. Why should you have to clean up after him? He’s a grown adult.” Believe me, I know exactly where you’re coming from. I can’t even count how many similar thoughts I’ve had. But here’s the thing… let’s say that’s true. Let’s say that it’s a fact that I shouldn’t be expected to clean up after him. So what? When I think that, I’m miserable. I’m frustrated. I’m annoyed. I don’t think loving thoughts about my hubby, and I don’t show up like the kind of wife I want to be. So who cares if it’s true?
When I choose to think about how much I love having a clean house and how amazing I’m going to feel when it’s clean, I feel motivated and maybe even a little excited to clean up. Then I clean with joy and energy and light. And I have the clean house that I wanted in the first place without a side of frustration, annoyance, and resentment. And to top it off, I show up as the kind of wife I want to be.
This is what happens when you throw away your manuals. Having expectations of how someone else should behave means choosing to have negative emotions. When I don’t expect anything of my hubby except to be there and let me love him, I take all my power back. I am in control of how clean my house is. I get to feel the emotions I want to feel. I get to be the person I want to be.
Let go of what you think is true and choose thoughts that get you the results you want.