Ask Joey: The art of rejection
After reciprocal swing-by-the-cubicle kibitzing, shared lunches and finally, dinner with a co-worker, I told her I was attracted. She was flattered but preferred our friendship. Now, our conversation is brief and not as personal. I can acknowledge that I have pulled back and imagine this is reciprocal. Am I a bad friend for not maintaining the same level of interaction as before? Or was it unrealistic?
Let’s still the pendulum and stop those thoughts from swinging. At the heart of both questions is a curiosity about where to place the blame. But neither inquiry is useful in discovering the deeper truth. The real problem is your discomfort with rejection. Have you read The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield? It’s a skinny book that offers wise counsel about how artists, entrepreneurs and visionaries can demolish blocks to success. Much of what Pressfield relates is the spiritual approach to life. Consider this nugget: “When people say an artist has a thick skin … what they mean is that he has seated his professional consciousness in a place other than his personal ego. It takes tremendous strength of character to do this, because our deepest instincts run counter to it.”
Having an “aha” moment? You don’t have to be a creative type to understand that your real work is to not pout when you don’t get what you want. Think of it this way: You hung out with a co-worker and liked her enough to propose shifting into courtship. She declined. You pulled away. Why? If she is as much fun as you say, she should be a welcome addition to your friend group. Oh, you can whine that she pulled away first or just as much. What does that matter? Accept the awkward stage your friendship is now in. Acknowledge what this experience can teach you. Start here: Friendship is an excellent foundation for a healthy romantic relationship, but a spark doesn’t mean that romance is inevitable or even necessary. And, no, it is not unrealistic to make your pitch, be turned down and maintain platonic status. It just requires a willingness to tuck in your ego.
My father is in frail health and needs support. I am single and my two sisters are married, one sister has a child. My sisters insist that I serve as primary care for our father, moving in with him or allowing him to move in with me. They think I am free to devote my life to his care because I am single. The worst of it is that I was never my father’s favorite, and he made that clear throughout my life. I expect it will be clear in his will, too. How do I get my sisters to see that their demands are outrageous? Also, what would be a fair solution?
What are your father’s wishes? Please give him an opportunity to weigh in on how he wants to live. Of course, if he is unable or unwilling to decide, you must. If your father is financially fit, tap his assets to pay for a licensed in-home caregiver. Or split the cost with your sisters. This maintains your freedom and ensures that your father is supervised. It is essential that each of you visit him often to see that all is well in his household. But before you do, shed your resentment. Enter into this new phase of your life with an open heart and mind. Instead of grumbling about not being Dad’s favorite, reset the clock. You’re an adult. You have the privilege of helping out a fellow human being when he is at his most vulnerable. Can you feel the freedom now?