Jealousy and other bendy thoughts

Joey Garcia

My best friend’s boyfriend is an ass, but she doesn’t see it. He’s a gym rat and criticizes her for not working out and for what she eats. She says he’s helping her. I say he puts her down. Whenever he says, “Babe, do you really want to eat that?” or “Babe, shouldn’t you slow down a little at the trough?” I want to puke. This look of pain flashes in her eyes for a second, then she smiles or giggles, pushes the plate away and says, “Thank you, baby.” I think he’s bad for her self-esteem. When I tell her, she pushes me away. He’s her first real boyfriend. How do I get her to see what he’s really doing?

You can’t pinch people awake, honey. Your best friend believes that what she is experiencing is love. She could be right. Real love is a paradox: We are loved as we are and we are challenged to become our best selves. So your friend probably asked her man to be the guardian of her gastronomy. If she did, he’s just fulfilling her request, his way. It may seem outrageous to you, but it’s her life. She has the right to decide how she prefers to be encouraged, reminded and reprimanded. Since she has not complained to you, she doesn’t have a problem. After all, you describe her man as being annoying and disrespectful in this one regard, but not abusive, right? Studies do show that new habits take hold faster when reinforced with positive thoughts. For example, while eating, your friend could engage in self-talk like, “I love eating the right, healthy portions for my body.” But many people still believe that a harsh approach to self-discipline is ideal. Your friend and her man may be devotees of the latter approach.

The real question is why your friend’s situation irks you. Does the relationship between your best friend and her man trigger your own memories of being criticized? Are you jealous of their relationship and searching for something wrong with him to justify your feelings? It’s important that you drill down and uncover what lurks beneath your concern. Sometimes, things that upset us are just the universe’s call to heal our own wounds. Yes, that’s correct. This situation may have nothing to do with your friend, food or her man.

I’ve been hanging out with these two guys in my dorm totally casually, but both of them took it the wrong way. Now, they’re mad at me, and I keep feeling like I did something wrong, like led them on or something, even though I didn’t do anything. I told them up front that I am not interested in dating. I like these guys as friends, but the whole thing has become really awkward.

Actually, you did do something wrong. You taught yourself to feel guilty when someone is unhappy with you. So, either you really did behave in a way that you’re now in denial about (and that inspires your guilt), or you did nothing wrong and are allowing others to intimidate you into taking total responsibility for their feelings. Whew! That’s a lot of bendy thoughts. Don’t you have some homework that would benefit from all of that energy? Let’s stop your mind from distracting you with worry about what these guys think about you. Here’s a new assignment: Tell your mind that you are in charge. The next time it tells you stories, say “Thank you.” Then, imagine the thought deflating like an untied balloon. Return your focus immediately to something important. If you continue to practice these mental calisthenics daily, the payoff will be inner peace.

Meditation of the week

“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage,” wrote the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. Do you have the courage to stand by your heart?

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