Remember to use your instinct
Last night I was reminded of why using your gut is important in life. I have a friend with whom I have been friendly for 30 years or more and last night I had dinner with him. I tend to keep my friendships over the years as time seems more valuable than true connection in some cases. Most of the people in my life are those that I love and that love me to one degree or another. I feel blessed in that area and most days I encounter someone who falls into that category. I love being with people but I find after a couple of hours I am happy to be left alone once again to reflect on what has transpired between us. I really treasure my alone time as it refreshes and relaxes me which is something I need daily. It is clear to me that I am an introvert at heart.
Anyway, last night I was invited to dinner by someone who has been a friend for many years and instinctively, I didn’t want to go but I did. I couldn’t verbalize to myself exactly why it was I didn’t want to go but the feeling was clearly there. Once I met him at the restaurant all I wanted to do was get out of there. I realized how angry I was at him and how annoying I found him. I carefully responded to his questions and made conversation with him all the while wondering what was up with me and this very visceral response of mine?
After a while I got it which one usually does if you stick with it. I knew this man really wasn’t on my side but was angry at me for some reason. This thought came to me in a flash and had taken 12 years to get there. Here was my lesson. I pride myself on never ending a relationship in a bad way if I can help it and have most of my ex’s still in my life as devoted friends. I call them my “back up team”. I really mean that as I call them for advice or counsel and try to stay a part of their lives. I think they know I would be there for them in a second should they need me.
My friend last night suffers from defensiveness which I can also suffer from. What made me learn how to solve this problem is going to work at Cal and having written evaluations done by students every term on my teaching performance. If I had let every negative comment affect me I wouldn’t have been able to continue on there. I learned that when my weekly column was made into mincemeat by the student editor I went back to my house, looked at the edits she had made, and called her to thank her.
I learned the only way I was going to get anywhere in life was to look at what others were doing in the same line as me and see what they did better and go on to learn from their example. It took me 20 years to learn this but I did. If you close your eyes to the work of others in the field you are in you will never become the best in your field. As a writer I constantly read: several newspapers, two books at a time, many magazines, poetry, and without these tools of my trade I would never improve my work which is my goal.
Along with improving my work I also strive to be a better friend. I try to listen without always adding a similar story of my own and to offer feedback without being judgmental. This is not always easy. I am a” jumper inner” which is a nature that requires toning down. I am also really hard on myself and that is not such a great quality in the long run.
Anyway last night it was clear to me that my friend was not in my corner and would never be there. He was still angry at the past and unable to love in the present. It was clear to me that he was constantly judging my behavior in the events we had been at together and in order to feel stronger than me he found fault with me. I have been here before and I bet most of you, my readers, have as well. It doesn’t feel good. If you are in this dynamic with another there is no way to solve it as a person who is in this corner can’t get themselves out of it unless they want to. Many of us stay in the corner because it is too frightening to try to get out and the older you are the more precious energy is required to change...It seems easier to be critical of others rather than looking at your own behavior.
Trying involves facing what others say about you, facing how the world has evaluated you, facing your own fears of inadequacy and moving on. Frankly, once you get moving, it’s not that tough. The toughest part is getting moving. I did it initially by pretending I was a man. I often do this in business situations as I find it helps me get to the outcome I am hoping for. I just kind of muscle my way through. “Feedback” I would say, “Come on hit me with all you have got!”
Competition is a good thing and what you learn from it even better. The best thing, however, is learning to listen to your instinct and doing what it tells you to do. If you feel that someone is not on your side you are probably right. If you don’t have a pleasant time with someone but always notice how on guard you are then don’t spend time with that person. Most of all, try to find people in your life who really support you and want you to find happiness and achievement. The one very obvious thing that we sometimes forget is that you can’t change other people so it is a waste of time to try to or to talk or think about how much they annoy you. There is no reason to focus on this at all. A better place to focus is on doing your work as best as you can and by being as generous as you can with your love in the world. Those are my Sunday thoughts…hope you enjoy them.
BTW! Hotel Possibility is fiction and not a real place! Many readers loved the idea and wrote asking me where it was located. The responses from this piece were fascinating. I wrote it with a ” tongue in cheek” attitude thinking people would know it was a bit of a philosophical outlook on the difficulties of dating. I was wrong. Men wrote and said why waste money on two room? Most of these men were over 60. Women of the same age loved the idea but were hesitant to publically agree feeling it might annoy their guys. The most positive group were the under 40’s who loved the idea and wanted to invest in it so maybe this is the way of romance in the future? Who knows?