It has often been said in defense of how to books, of which this is unmistakably one, that if the reader can take away just one idea that he can use, why then the book can change his life. I agree. I can't tell you how many people I know who have read one single tip in a book on golf or investing or relationships that has somehow opened their minds and brought vast improvements into their lives.

This said, if there is one chapter, one thought, one glimmer of an idea in The Ironman that is most likely to change someone's life, it is probably this one: DON'T CALL A GIRL YOU ARE INVOLVED WITH BECAUSE YOU ARE ANXIOUS SHE DOESN'T LOVE YOU ANYMORE.

Call your best friend, male or female. Go out for a bicycle ride. Go swimming, jogging, rollerblading. Call your brother in Kansas City.
Call your mom and inquire about her health. Do something, anything, that will involve you and take your mind off your fear that the girl you love is falling out of love with you. For if she's a valuable, intelligent, healthy woman, why, then, there is simply no better way to get her to fall out of love with you than to call her when you're anxious and feeling vulnerable. She'll smell it like a bad fart.

'What's the use?' you might argue, 'in trying to pretend I am what I'm not. She'll sense it. And if not now, then sooner or later the real me will come out.'

Not true. Let me say this as plainly and as directly and as powerfully as I can: People read actions more than words. Words are cheap, truly about a 60 cents for ten thousand dozen (the price of the daily New York Times in relation to its content). Action is vastly more difficult, and people know it. When you don't call back, sniveling on the phone, looking for love, groveling for reassurance, you have taken action. You have restrained yourself from calling back. You have triumphed, at least this time, over weakness. The call did not occur. Your girl did not receive a communication from you. She did not hear your wounded voice. For all she knows, you were out making love to her best friend.

I understand, of course, the difficulty of restraining yourself when you're feeling vulnerable and alone, when you sense you're losing someone. What I recommend is that when such feelings start to engulf you, you run for your copy of The Ironman and open it to this chapter and read it over and over again. And do not stop until you have internalized in your very cells the following thought: the phone call you feel compelled to make is more likely to precipitate the very thing you are trying to prevent than it is to reassure and soothe you.

Consider this. Most of the time we are feeling we are losing someone's love, we are wrong. It is all happening in our mind, not hers. Furthermore, in this complicated, political, manipulative game of life ~ and believe me, it is a game - we are more likely to gain love by playing it cool than by laying all our cards on the table, by wearing our hearts on our sleeves. You will discover, too, that each time you find the strength to resist making one of these calls your strength will grow. You will feel proud of yourself, and more confident that you have the fortitude to resist the next crisis. And your strength will build on itself; and before long this kind of strong-minded behavior will be the way you've come to act naturally.

It is important, of course, that you have other things to distract, inspire, and absorb you when you are feeling these moments of weakness. Reading this chapter over and over again will lose its effectiveness, or at least get very boring. All of us have outlets that for some reason take our minds away from our troubles. When I play golf, I get so absorbed in the game I can actually stop thinking about what's bothering me for four and five hours at a time. Completely and totally. And if I happen to play well then when I am finished golfing whatever was obsessing or tormenting me somehow seems infinitely diminished.

What works for you? Bowling. Reading. A movie. Or how about calling a close and trusted friend with whom you can let your guard down? Or taking a trip? Or just getting out of the house and driving somewhere? Whatever works for you, recognize it and make sure that it becomes a part of your repertory when needed. In truth I can think of no more important step in becoming an Ironman than in mastering the art of restraint, than in standing up to and defeating your feelings of neediness.

You'll be amazed how succeeding at my plan will make you a wonderfully stronger, more confident, and, thus, happier and more masterful person.


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