Shrinking yourself

Joey Garcia

My best friend of four years told me that her counselor said our relationship is toxic and ended our friendship. She will not return my phone calls or respond to my emails. I am so hurt and angry. I have been there for her through her husband’s affairs, her divorce, surgery and problems with her kids. Now that I need a friend, she’s gone. I left a message for her counselor, but she has not returned my call.

And, if she is a good counselor, she won’t. You crossed a boundary by contacting your former friend’s counselor. Be clear: You do not have the right to participate in or interfere with your friend’s healing process unless she invited you to a session or unless you have direct knowledge of abuse by the counselor. So, please, take a breath. Redirect your energy into your own life. Focus on quieting your mind. It is overcommitted to protecting its image of itself. I suggest that you accept the closure of this relationship gracefully. Then, see a therapist yourself (not the same person your friend is working with) and confront your toxic behavior. And remember, true friends don’t keep a tally of what they do for each other. So stop obsessing about how she abandoned you when you needed her most. It drags you places you don’t need to go.

I am really struggling during meetings at my new job, because I can’t hold my own power. When I get around certain people I agree to whatever is said. Afterward, I’m angry because I’m not in agreement at all. I am afraid I am sabotaging myself, but don’t know how to stop.

Think of each meeting as an opportunity to exercise your communication skills. If you listen to yourself deeply, you’ll hear the small but confident voice of your true self. On the rare occasion that there is no immediate inner response, wait patiently. Silence invites you to investigate your thoughts and feelings through questions like, “What happens in my body when I think about this possibility?” Or, “What is the spiritual significance of this experience?” Be willing to give yourself all the time you need to inquire. Doing so might be uncomfortable at first. We are indoctrinated in elementary school to answer questions quickly and correctly. It’s difficult, but worth it, to unlearn this behavior for the purpose of investigating our own thoughts and feelings.

Once you have clarified your beliefs, give them voice. Remember, too, that it’s OK to change your mind. Just do it with integrity by stating what you believed before, what you believe now and why your opinion changed. Taking the time to focus on yourself will distract you from the tendency to agree to things that are not in your best interest. Shedding that people-pleasing behavior is not easy, but it is worth it.

I am strongly intuitive, and it gets in the way of dating. When I go out with a man, I find myself picking up details of his life, like snapshots. My mind then fills in whatever I might have missed. Later, I am not certain what is real and what is fantasy, so I end up believing things about a person that are not true, and this leads to clashes that are awkward and difficult. Any ideas?

Yes, pour your creative imagination into writing, filmmaking, theater or visual art. Stop wasting your creative power by projecting it onto others. You deserve a more honest approach to developing a relationship. The next time your mind starts to tell you a story about a man you are dating, interrupt. Tell yourself that you are content getting to know him without bias. He deserves that and so do you.

Meditation of the week
“Out beyond the field of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there,” wrote Rumi, the Sufi sage and mystic. Can you see possibilities outside of a pro and con list?

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