We are attracted to the chase, the continuous challenge of proving we are worthy, and proving we belong with someone. Most of us don't realize, the chase has little to do with that other person and more to do with the chase within us. We know deep down, if we were just happy, whether it was alone or in a healthier relationship, our chase would be over. We no longer would suffer from not feeling good enough. We could just be accepted, even with our faults, even with our strangeness, not just by that other person but more importantly by our hardest critic-- our self.
I originally wrote this article about chasing the wrong kind of relationships. Although I think that is an issue a lot of people can relate to, however I realized by writing it down, the root cause is related to other channels of life as well.
The chase of a relationship could be substituted for really any life endeavor. Body image, popularity, jobs, money, travel--- the chase is in all of them. I originally wrote it because I have had experiences in unhealthy relationships. However, in hindsight, I realize I was also chasing a myriad of externalities which contributed to feeling unstable in my values, my dreams, and my goals.
Relationships are built on trust. Trust is built by honesty. If you are not being honest with yourself about what you value as an individual, it will be next to impossible to define what you value in any other relationship or opportunity.
I remember when I first started working out, my mom made me go to the gym with her. It was a lot of fun because it was not about becoming incredibly fit, it was mostly about spending time together and being healthy. Being healthy is something I value, hence why it was fulfilling going to the gym when it was focused on improving my mental and physical health. As I got older, I found myself becoming more attached to the results of working out than just the process. My ego became fulfilled with the number of compliments I would get on my body. I started tanning so I would look even more toned and I would feel super guilty if I missed a day at the gym.
I was chasing the outcome, so I lost sight of the process.
The problem with being hyper-focused on outcomes, is you are constantly living in the future and disconnect from what you are experiencing in the present.
So even if you are miserable and suffering, you will justify it for your end result. Similarly in toxic relationships, the chase leads you to believe long-term happiness is around the corner. You begin to believe if the person you yearn to be with, will finally wake up one day and love you back---it will all be worth it. But just like trying to create a perfect beach body, the chase could go on forever.
The other issue is even if you achieve your goal you might not even realize it. The outcome just shifts to another extreme, until you slump into a hole of insecurity and self-doubt. We can become so consumed, we barely recognize the healthy opportunities and people around us anymore. We lose touch with gratitude, appreciation, and mindfulness. This means we can lose touch of our most supportive relationships, passions, and self-care habits.
Now, I don't want to misinterpret outcomes with goals. Goals are valuable. I also realize to achieve a goal sometimes you need to hustle. It takes an abundance of determination, dedication and strength to get there. I think the major difference is the degree of dependency on what you are chasing, and if it is really sustainable for your future.
Which brings me to my take on goal-setting.
Keep goals close to your heart, but also give them the room to breathe or perhaps be let go. No matter how hard you try, you can not change people or external situations. To be successful, we also need to be adaptable. To feel confident in chance and change, a person needs to feel grounded and rooted in something beyond the external happenings of life.
“If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. Primary reality is within; secondary reality without” Eckhart Tolle.
It takes time, but after awhile you might realize the chase is no more than a game we play with ourselves. The finish line for being comfortable in our own skin, and loving from the inside out, is what attracts all those external rewards to materalize in ways we can't see coming.
Convincing yourself you need that dreamy relationship, the cool friend group, or a hundred Instagram likes to belong, will only provide short-term happiness. Most the time even if/when you get to that point, you will just desire another thing to chase.
So don't be afraid of not chasing. Try the harder thing of sitting still and being patient. Nurture love and belonging within yourself first and allow that to work its magic into the unexpected world around you.