I was probably the worst commitment-phobe you would ever meet (but I’m cured now). As a redemptive apology for my past flakiness, I’ve made a list of four ways that worked for me in the hopes that it could assist you or your partner or your friend to just commit to one person, place, and thing already. I was the person who used to hop from city to city, from person to person, from thing to thing. I was always racked by chronic indecision over whether the choice I made was right. (Because everything can be rationalized and justified, right?)
Here are four tried and tested ways that cured me of my commitment phobia:
1. Focus on Depth – Not Breath
I was addicted to novelty and discovering the connections between things. I knew a lot about everything, but not much about something. As soon as the newness wore off, I became restless. Boredom made me anxious, and I kept chasing the next thrill to keep my levels of stimulation at an all-time high. When I decided to hone in and focus on depth instead of breadth, I began to experience the advantages that can only be gotten from consistently connecting to one thing; the biggest being able to deeply connect with myself. It made me realize that getting to know just one person or craft or place can be even more fascinating, pleasurable and interesting than getting to know many of them.
2. Rejection of Alternatives
When you do too many things, you spread yourself thin and are unable to dedicate enough time to just one. Faced with the paradox of choice, I began to consciously reject alternatives and started to say no more often. On the superficial surface, everything looks attractive and perfect, but when you delve deeper there are problems everywhere. The solution is not to avoid problems or find something that doesn’t have them, but to choose the problems that you enjoy solving the most. Choose a partner you love who you also don’t mind fighting with, choose the profession that you would be willing to suffer for, choose the place that you could see yourself building a family or career in.
3. Conquering Immediate Gratification
In terms of short-term gratification, it feels really good to have your desires fulfilled. In terms of long-term gratification, true intimacy can only be built through time, which takes patience and persistence. I started staying instead of leaving and realized that the grass is not always greener on the other side. I identified a few core values to build the foundation of my life upon, like honesty, compassion, integrity, and authenticity. I stuck to these internal qualities and they began to guide me, instead of external stimuli.
Sometimes, a traumatic past event can be recorded as an emotional memory. If a present event is reminiscent of it, it can trigger fear of the consequences. Rather than acting on the immediate impulse to run, reflect and consider if you are creating the threat in your mind.
4. Beating the Fear of Missing Out
My biggest fear was that I would be missing out on something better by committing to one thing. I came to the realization that there will always be someone or something better for me and better than me. This doesn’t take away or add to my value or that of another person’s. I stopped using a comparative analysis for things, and began to see them as they were; imperfect, uncertain, and evolving, just like everything else. My biggest shift was in understanding that committing was not about picking the ‘right’ way, but rather simply picking something and sticking to it to make it the best possible version.