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Mindful : October 2013
68 mindful October 2013 What version of your dad do you want to hang out with? Your father as he is or the imaginary guy you want him to be? There’s this woman at my all-fema le gym who’s always loud and blunt about how I look and how I’m doing in class—and she’s not even the fitness instructor! How do I tell her to cool it? Do you Boxercise? Because persona lly, I’d wa nt to pop her one. But before you entertain that, remember that when someone gets to you, it means you can be got. If she said you looked great and were doing well, would you still be irked? Is it her criticism that gets to you or do you just want to be left alone? Or maybe she bothers you because there’s a grain of truth in what she’s saying. Consider, too, that commenting on your crunches may just be her way—admittedly irritating— of finding a new gym buddy. You could suck it up and thank her for her comments, then tell her that when you’re working out you prefer not to chitchat. Then, later, you ca n think about her quips, take in anything useful, and drop-kick the rest. I’m not close to my dad, though I’m his only son. I want to improve our rela- tionship, but we have very different ideas about what constitutes a good time. When we’re watching sports, I’d rather be at a movie. When we’re eating at a good restaurant, I’m pretty sure he’d rather be golfing. Where’s the middle ground? Imag ine a world where everyone ate the same foods and laughed at the same jokes. With no one having to stretch beyond their comfort zone, relationships would become unchallenging and less meaningful pretty fast. What version of your dad do you wa nt to hang out with? Your father as he is or the imaginary guy you want him to be? Are you looking for a connection or just to have a good time? Why not make the first move and in- vite your father to join you in something he enjoys, like a ball game? So it’s not your favorite thing—big deal. In the long run, reaching out to your dad will prove far more enjoyable than holding out until you find that ethereal “good time” middle ground. My brother has invited me to his destination wedding. We only see each other every few years, and my parents are strongly encouraging me to attend. But the steep ticket price means I’ll have to curb some of my own plans. (I have my own wedding to save for!) So now good news has turned into anxiety. How do I navi- gate this? Sounds like everyone involved is caught up in a bit of “what about me?” And what could have been a simple decision—either you can afford to go or you can’t—has become about something else altogether. It might be tempting to go to your brother ’s wedding a nd follow up by making your own wedding even more inconvenient a nd costly. (Hah! So there!) Or you could make a statement and buck the over-the-top wedding trend when it’s your turn. (Hah! So there!) It might be interesting to examine what’s really bugging you. Is it that you actually can’t afford it or do you resent being inconvenienced for the sake of your family? If funds are available, why not go ahead and book your ticket? You might be surprised at the power of generosity to cut your anxiety—and you might gen- uinely enjoy yourself once you get there. And if it really would break the bank to go, send heartfelt, honest regrets and ship a nice gift to the destination. You’ll be there in spirit. ● relationships in practice relationships in practice Illustration by Alessandro Gottardo Ask Ms. Mindful