Choice and Fear

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Here's a simple math problem. If I were to flip a coin, what are the chances of heads turning up?

A. 50%

B. 50%

I didn't say it was a hard math problem. Let's say the coin lands and gives us heads. Now if I flip the coin a second time, what are the chances of me getting heads again?

A. 25%

B. 50%

C. 75%

Ooh. Three choices! The answer is B. Let's say the coin turned up heads again. Flipping the coin once more, what are the chances we get heads again?

Believe it or not, the chances are still 50%. Each coin flip is completely unrelated to each other. They're separate events in time. I hope it's easy to see this truth.

Living as humans, we're constantly haunted by our past. Maybe it's evolution's way to help protect us from making the same possible fatal mistake. But when this fear of the past seeps into other parts of our lives that may not have the benefit of killing us, then issues may arise.

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I have a friend who has had a devastating past with men. In general, men have not treated her kindly. In many cases violently. Her current beau is a strange bird, a conspiracist, or a believer of such non-scientifically proven things as the earth is flat and the moon landing was faked and...well...to go on would be a waste of space.

Short story long, they've broken up numerous times, citing mental abuse, specifically him wanting her to believe in the crazy. After breaking up for the last time, she's told me she would never go back to him again, using the words, "Read my lips...no new taxes." OK. That was George. But we all know how that turned out. So, too, did my friend go back on her own word. But it's her life, and she can do whatever she wants with it.

I bring her up for a specific reason. When they had ended it for the nth time, she feared that she would not find anyone better than her ex, citing her past. So I gave her the coin flip math problem, which she answered correctly, and I said that her past does not determine who she dates in the future. She wasn't sure, but she put up a strong front on Facebook, posting happy pictures.

Several months later, I hear through the grapevine that she went back to her ex, well her non-ex now. I guess my coin flip analogy failed to imbue her with the courage to seek a new man. Hey. Who knows? They may work it out.

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So how do you know when to "get back on the horse" or when to move on?

Because if my friend works her relationship out, and they both live a life filled with happiness, then it doesn't matter if they broke up and got back together many many times. In contrast, if they fail as a couple, then she may have wasted a lot of time.

Sometimes you act in the face of fear because in reality it's all in our heads.

I remember listening to an interview with Kathryn Stockett, who wrote The Help. She was rejected 60 times before finding her literary agent. So if she had decided to give up at the 60th rejection, she may have not found the success she has today. Emotionally, she has gone through a rollercoaster of a ride trying to get her book published. All writers do. She must have had intense doubt as the rejection letters piled higher and higher. But something in her spoke to her, to continue submitting query letters, despite the fear of rejection. But she did it! If we look at the coin flip analogy, each letter had no effect on the other. She could have possibly received endless rejections because one rejection does not promise that the next won't be. And she could have received an offer letter if she had queried her current agent first.

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An example of real fear is when a grizzly bear is chasing you. As you're running away, you remember a frightening fact. They can run way faster than humans and over greater distances. You look back, and the bear is gaining on you. Fast. Good luck.

Let's get back to my friend and her beau. She decided to start the relationship yet again out of fear, which was that she wouldn't be able to find someone as good as him. We can't say that there is a better match for her because there are no guarantees in life. Save death. But we do know there are plenty of other men out there that she hasn't explored. So her fear that he's the best for her is unfounded.

It would be one thing if their relationship worked, then there'd be no need to look further. From what little I see of them, she's trying to change him, he's trying to change her, and that to leads conflict. In other words, they haven't accepted each other for who they are. Nor have they accepted themselves. Once those things are done, then getting along with each other becomes much easier.