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Mindful : February 2014
68 mindful February 2014 You dumped her. Fine, but you’re also hanging on to her— or the idea of her. I want to say this in the nicest way possible, but I’m a weirdo mag net. In public, very complicated people grav itate to me. I pride myself on being pleasant, but these encounters are not. Help! What do you mean by “weirdo”? I think you’re talking about those special people we all sometimes bump into in public and whom most of us avoid, or worse, treat as invisible. So, how about a cha nge—try to see your encounters with these folks as opportunities to offer some recognition and respect to a fellow human being. I don’t mean being a pushover. No one need endure bad behavior directed their way. But have you noticed that when you move into ward-off mode, people (like cats) are drawn to you all the more? If you take a moment to acknowledge that person—not as a weirdo, but a fellow being—and move on, it’s far more likely they will go their own way. Granted, sometimes that “moving on” needs to come by way of some sharp language, but if you’ve taken the time to regard this person as a person, the whole thing will likely come off better. I need to get my father to talk to me about drafting a will, but he shuts down when it comes to anything related to death. How can I keep this conversation focused on the practical details and sidestep the emotion? Oh, those pesky emotions. Good luck sidestepping them here, though. Death and money? It doesn’t get more sensitive than that. First, make sure you’ve worked through a ny emotional bumps you faced setting up your own will. (You do have a will, right?) This might allow you space to better acknowledge the difficulties he’s facing. Realistically, you can’t force people to look at what they don’t want to look at or talk about what they’re not ready to talk about. But if you can tiptoe into this territory and initiate a discussion about your plans—past or future, and, yes, your feelings about death—that might help your dad open up, too. Three years after a romantic breakup, I’m still hurting. Even more confus- ing: I was the one who broke up with her. Why can’t I move on—especially as other wonderful people come into my life? It’s good to ask yourself just what’s keeping this hurt going. You dumped her. Fine, but you’re also hanging on to her, or the idea of her. You must be, right? Because the pain’s still there. So why a re you holding on? Sometimes we would rather nurse one familiar hurt than risk the possibility of new kinds of pain. Figuring out why you’re holding on is the only way for you to get unstuck. Even if you ca n only manage baby steps out of your inner drama—examine, say, just one “what if we’d stayed togeth- er” scenario today instead of six—you can begin to disrupt the pattern. Then you’ll have a better chance of connecting with the new people coming into your life. ● relationships in practice Illustration by Alessandro Gottardo Ask Ms. Mindful