Letting Go of Self-Conscious Maneuvering

BY CHRIS

I was on a quest to find satisfaction in my relationships with women. As I searched for information on the Internet, I came across groups aimed at teaching men to be pick-up artists. This compelling topic addressed issues that conventional psychotherapy doesn't confront. But as I researched the pick-up movement, I became disillusioned with it. One critic who'd tried it said pick-up ruined him for relationships, and that was the last thing I wanted. The bar scene had never appealed to me anyway--my mind would get stuck in questions like Do I have the right haircut? Am I wearing the right clothes? What's my opening line? 

When I discovered OM, it was the perfect alternative to that kind of self-conscious maneuvering. The OM container is a powerful concept. You're not trying to achieve anything. You don't have to wonder if the woman you’re OMing with wants to form a long-term relationship. It's a safe space where you can explore connection, without worrying about a bigger picture, because there isn't one. For a woman, too, the container and the simplicity of asking for an OM create a situation where she doesn't have to worry about how to present herself in an online dating profile or respond in a chat. The whole interaction is clear and direct.

Learning to pay attention as closely as you do in an OM has changed my day-to-day interactions. My relationship with my younger daughter was problematic for years. I used to want her to share my views and do things the way I thought they should be done. She accused me of mansplaining a lot. Our relationship works much better now that I can really listen to what she has to say, take in what she's feeling, and stop trying to change her. I take a light-hearted approach to things. We still have little family crises, but we handle them better. 

I have also gained the capacity to experience my own emotions instead of thinking they have to change too. In my early OMs, if I felt turned on, sometimes I'd get the urge to have sex, but I knew the point was that wasn’t going to happen. In the OM container, there's an implicit agreement that I'm going to pay attention to the OM, to try and feel what it needs. If I break that agreement, then the interaction doesn't work. I was motivated to stick to the container. The goallessness of OM means I don't have to be anywhere except with what's happening at that moment in time. If I'm feeling frustrated, I celebrate and embrace that feeling within myself. Then I can turn my complete attention back to the OM.

The same process happens in daily life with emotions like fear. Sometimes I want to slow down my life or take a break, but I immediately start to be afraid of not accomplishing enough. It's easy to get into a mind game about how to stop feeling fearful, but that thought process doesn't work so well. Nowadays my attitude is that I should celebrate being fearful because if you climb a mountain, and it was a piece of cake, you really didn't achieve anything. If you climb a mountain, and it was a big struggle, you're a hero. So if I get into a situation where I feel fearful, it's like, high five, I get to be a hero on this expedition.