Four Tools of the Trade

Once you’ve decided that you want to learn more about yourself by taking your crushes to the Grown Up Crush level, there are four major tools you’ll be using: Self Control, Imagination, Introspection and Action.

Self Control

Without Self Control, there’s no way other than dumb luck that you’re going to keep from falling so hard into a crush that you’ll get hurt and confused. Self Control allows you to deliberately move one step at a time. It allows you to step outside of your actions and realize what the outcomes (intended or unintended) may be. Most importantly, it allows you to not make what you know is a really bad decision.

Like many things, you get better at Self Control through practice. Start small in an unrelated area of your life–preferably something that doesn’t have a lot of emotional energy weight behind it. Decide to do something in a certain way, at a certain time for a certain duration. Exercise is a good example, as would be a hobby like painting or writing. Learn what it feels like to be in control of yourself. What it’s like to focus and separate yourself from the distractions around you.

Self Control isn’t easy to master. As humans, we’re fallible creatures. If you slip up, don’t be too hard on yourself. That’s part of the learning process. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again.

Make Self Control into a habit. As a general rule, it takes about three weeks to get into a groove with a habit. It takes three days (or three missed iterations) to break that groove.

Taking control of your actions and thoughts will help you not get swept away by the emotions involved in crushes. Or, at least, it will let you more easily get your feet back on the ground once you’ve fallen head over heels.


Most of the work of discovery done in the course of a Grown Up Crush takes place in your head. Because of this, Imagination is exceptionally important. Without a solid Imagination, you’ll find it difficult to run yourself through fictional scenarios with your crush.

Imagination is one part storytelling, one part acting and one part creativity. Don’t worry–we all have those parts in us. The thing is, most people let the mental muscles that make up those parts atrophy as they creep into their adult years. As children, most of us had fantastic imaginations. Try to reclaim that.

Like everything else, Imagination takes some practice. Prod it into action through some creative work–writing or sketching or painting, anything will do. Be silly with it. Be serious with it. Just get used to stepping outside of plain old reality. It’s good for you, even if you’re not going to run with the Grown Up Crush idea.

Even better, you can practice your Self Control and work your Imagination at the same time. Do something creative at the same time every day or every few days during the week. That way you can really have a handle on the whole process.


Everything involved in a Grown Up Crush is useless without Introspection. In deciding you wanted to learn more about yourself, you’ve already begun practicing some of the key points needed for worthwhile Introspection.

Honesty and an ability to not get drawn down into self-destructive criticisms are two key components to Introspection. You have to be able to objectively look at a situation–either during or after the fact–and evaluate it.

How did the situation make you feel? How did your actions influence things? What could have gone better? What could have gone worse? Those are just some of the questions you need to address after each step in the Grown Up Crush.

Sometimes it’s hard to answer those questions honestly. It hurts to realize we didn’t do as well as we had hoped or to admit that what we did hurt someone else. Keep in mind that it’s impossible to actually live life without stumbling and sometimes inadvertently hurting others. As time goes on, both of those occurrences should decrease.

Introspection takes just as much practice as Imagination and Self Control. It’s also intimately tied to those two things. Together they make up the core of any program of personal development.


Without Action, nothing you do matters.

You can imagine and evaluate things all you want, but unless you do something with the knowledge and information you gain, nothing changes.

The goal of the Grown Up Crush is change.

When you decide to do something, set a deadline and then do it by that deadline. If you miss the deadline, take a step back and look at why you missed it.

Be Introspective about it–don’t make excuses. Know why you do (or don’t do) things. Work to understand and change.

Be Creative in deciding what to do and how to do it–creative action can have a much deeper effect on yourself and others than plain wrote action.

Most importantly, be in Control of your actions–the main way you’re going to get hurt (or hurt others) is by rushing off half-cocked and flailing into a situation. Even when things go in unexpected ways, be confident enough in yourself that you stop for a moment and think about what you’re going to do before you do it. Alternately, be well-practiced enough that some useful responses are automatic and instinctual.

With the four tools of Self Control, Imagination, Introspection and Action, you can move forward not just with your Grown Up Crush work, but with many other things in life.

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