Greetings! I promised to write you an article on how to get out of a slump.
Problem was, I was experiencing a bit of an idea slump myself. So I waited until the time was right. That’s going to be one of the themes of this article, as you’ll see.
Have you ever experienced a slump? That’s what I thought. The structure goes something like this: You experience a setback. It shakes you up a little.
As you’re recovering, another setback hits. Now you weren’t doing anything differently from before, but now you think you’re seeing a trend. This affects your beliefs and attitudes, which actually affects your performance, making more likely — you guessed it — another setback.
Now you’ve got what’s sometimes called a ‘vicious cycle’ — bad stuff leading to more bad stuff. And before you know it, you’re deep in some hole that you didn’t know existed.
That’s the genesis of the slump. It’s usually not entirely your fault. For example, it happens in poker all the time (and in finance, too, so I heard).
Everything we do in life is subject to the laws of probability. And simply because of the law of large numbers, the probability of having one bad streak at some point in your life is pretty high.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say ‘heads’ is good luck and ‘tails’ is bad luck. And let’s say 6 tails in a row means very bad luck — i.e. a slump.
If you toss a coin 6 times, the probably of having 6 tails in a row is pretty small — one in 64, or just under 1.6%.
But if you toss a coin 100 times, that probability goes up to over 90%. Toss it 1000 times, and it’s nearly certain to happen. In other words, all of us have a slump a-comin’ at some point, baby. No big deal.
Which brings us to the first step of the Tao of getting out of a slump:
1) Realize that slumps are normal.
Chapter 29 of the Tao Te Ching, one of my favorite, reads:
“Do you want to improve the world?
I don’t think it can be done.
The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.
There is a time for being ahead,
A time for being behind;
A time for being in motion,
A time for being at rest;
A time for being vigorous,
A time for being exhausted;
A time for being safe,
A time for being in danger.
The Master sees things as they are,
Without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
And resides at the center of the circle.”
Slumps happen all the time to everybody, regardless of skill, beauty or intelligence. This means you are not necessarily a chump, klutz, goober, doofus, clod, oaf, dork, dolt, or nincompoop.
So quit beating on yourself already. The essence of Taoist thought is accepting the world as it is. As it turns out, the world has dealt you a series of consecutive bad hands. Oh well. The good news is, when you hit rock bottom, the only way left to go is up! So take a deep breath and ride it out as you go to Step 2.
2) Release completely.
What a lot of people do when they hit a slump is they start to flounder even harder. “Wait, if I keep on doing the same thing that hasn’t been working, maybe it’ll work this time! Maybe if I go to this party, I’ll meet my dream companion! Maybe if I keep banging my head against this wall, it will come down!”
Yo — relax already. Step back and take stock. And release *completely*. This means stopping the struggle. Let go completely of whatever result you were attached to getting.
In the dating arena, this would look like this: If you go to a party, you don’t worry whether you meet anyone or not, whether you take or give any phone numbers, whether anything happens at all to move your dating along. You could just as easily stay home.
Which brings us to…
What’s been happening is that you’re going out there and your outcome has not been forthcoming. This makes you feel powerless and out of control.
Our goal here is to get you empowered again. And if you retreat for a little while — a few weeks, a month or two — then you’re probably not going to get that outcome either.
But the difference is that now, it’s on YOUR terms. You’re doing it deliberately. So you ARE getting the outcome you want, which is solitude. And, trickily enough, you have gotten your power back.
Once you’ve gotten retrenched and re-centered in your power, you can venture forth again. Which brings us to…
Okay, so you deliberately took time off, getting a result you planned, which made you feel empowered again. Now amplify that feeling of empowerment by doing things that you’re good at and enjoy. Activities that make you GROW.
So go pick up an old hobby. Or go do something you know you’re really good at to give yourself the ego boost — “Yeah baby, I’ve still got it.” Or go back to the basics and re-read what got you started (e.g. The Tao of Dating, available at www.thetaoofdating.com/order if you don’t already have it).
Whether it’s learning languages, painting or playing the guitar, you’re demonstrating competence to yourself. This boosts your self-esteem, re-centers you, gets the happy juices running, makes you feel awesome, and gets you back in the saddle again.
5) Raise your standards.
A mistake most people make in a dating slump is that they drop their standards, allowing for more and more questionable fish to be allowed into their metaphorical net. They think, “Well, just this once I’ll slum it to get over this hump…”
No. You need to stop that. Immediately.
There is no better way to signal your desperation to the universe by saying, “Well, anything will do.” Hell no it won’t! Stick to your guns. Be the picky buyer.
As Kahlil Gibran said in ‘The Prophet’: “Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts, it drinks even of dead waters.” So never compromise your values.
Slumming it even once not only sends the wrong message, but can also land you in a big mess that you didn’t see coming.
6) Relax into what is.
Chapter 26 of the Tao Te Ching says:
“A good traveler has no fixed plans
And is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
Lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
And keeps his mind open to what is.”
Once you’ve done the five steps above, you should be ready to roll again. Keep the lessons you learned from the slump and remain detached from your outcome while centering yourself in your power. Have the humility to go back to the old lessons that got you where you are and continue to engage in ‘te’, or right action.
Things are about to get a lot better, I assure you. And when you do feel the power surge back on, go out there and make things happen. I’d like to leave you with Chapter 23 of the Tao Te Ching, which summarizes nicely the article:
“Express yourself completely,
Then keep quiet.
Be like the forces of nature:
When it blows, there is only wind;
When it rains, there is only rain;
When the clouds pass, the sun shines through.
If you open yourself to the Tao,
You are at one with the Tao
And you can embody it completely.
If you open yourself to insight,
Aou are at one with insight
And you can use it completely.
If you open yourself to loss,
You are at one with loss
And you can accept it completely.
Open yourself to the Tao,
Then trust your natural responses;
And everything will fall into place.”
The power is within you,
PS: Can you think of two friends who would also
find this article useful? Then don’t be selfish —
send it to them!
PPS: I’m interested in your questions and
comments regarding dating, persuasion and
networking, so please do send them to me. I can be
reached at dralex(at)thetaoofdating.com
This is great advice!