Dear Dr. Norquist:
I am a 32-year-old Hoboken resident, and I read your column regularly. I have a situation that probably many women in Hoboken experience. I am single and would really like to find the right man. I go to the bars on the weekends, like everyone else, but it's always such a dissatisfying and uncomfortable experience. I've always been a little shy, and I don't really know how to fit in. I've never felt like I fit in - always I've felt different. This makes for a lonely life. What can I do to fit in better, and be more comfortable around others? Of course, I'd also like to ask you how to find the man who is right for me - but I know that's something you can't really answer.
Dr. Norquist responds:
Trying to "fit in" with others is not the approach that will get you what you want. What you need to focus on, is "fitting in" with yourself. The more you are at ease with yourself, the more you will be at ease with others, and the more others will be at ease with you. When you are at ease yourself, you do not need others to see you, or react to you in a certain way. When you are at ease with yourself, you are more in tune with your similarities with others, your common humanness and imperfections. From this place, you can experience humor more easily, and take life more lightheartedly. In this place, it's easy to be accepting of others because you are accepting of yourself. Others are drawn to this.
So - don't try to fit in with others. Instead, focus on knowing and accepting yourself. This will ready you for establishing the right relationship when the opportunity arises. It will also help you to be more open to it so it won't pass you by. Learn to shine your own light through being yourself, and you will be surprised how comfortable you feel around others, and how you no longer focus on feeling different.
Dear Dr. Norquist:
I wonder if you can help. I have a relationship with a woman who has a very strong character. Well, yesterday she asked to break up as I have been very jealous of her and did a lot of stupid things because of my love and jealousy. To excuse these different things I kept lying, something that she hates. I do not know what to do. For me she is a very special woman. I tried asking her to forgive me but I have made these silly mistakes so many times that she does not believe that I will ever solve this problem. Shall I keep on trying or is not worth it, as she has such a strong character that she might not change her mind about me. I love her so much, but she likes a man to be a man. As I try every time to please her so as not to break up, she thinks that I am not a strong person. But I can not help this; I love her so much and I do not want to lose her. I know she loves me, but as she is so strong, I think she means it that she had enough of my behavior and me. We have this relationship for two years now. She is very precious to me and I do not want to lose her. What shall I do? Forget her? I can't. All this time she has been very faithful to me. I am sick of being jealous.
Dr. Norquist responds:
Jealousy is born of fears and insecurities. Because of these fears and insecurities, you may be trying to control the outside world, i.e., your girlfriend's relationships or activities, or your attempts to "check-up" on her. However, the fears and insecurities belong to you; they come from the inside, not the outside. Rather than try to change or control or obsess over outside people or activities when we are jealous, we need to look within, at the source of the problem. Your lack of honesty with her further erodes the basic trust and openness that is essential to a healthy relationship.
Your girlfriend is looking for a man who feels secure within himself. You have been trying to find that security through your attachment to her. She knows this, and may have trouble respecting you for it. Try to be conscious of when you are feeling your insecurities and jealousies, and your impulse to "fill up" on her (so to speak) to appease these feelings. Instead of acting on these feelings, turn within. Be with your feelings. Be with your self. Experience the stillness within - that place that is beyond the emotions of the moment and beyond the restless mind. This place is always there, awaiting your recognition of it. You need only turn your consciousness away from the everyday world, to begin to sense that space within. Go there often. Get to know this inner place. It is this place that will fill you up, give you your source of security, and your inner strength; your rock of Gibraltar. You will not need your girlfriend in a draining, jealous or clinging way once you are in touch with this inner place. Then you are free to love her in a manner that is also experienced as freeing to her. This will be very attractive to her.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling and Stress Management Center, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.)
Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling and Stress Management Center, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life's stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding and treating physical symptoms and health-related concerns. Practitioners of the following techniques are available to answer your questions: psychology, acupuncture, therapeutic and neuromuscular massage, yoga, meditation, spiritual & transpersonal psychology, Reiki, Cranial Sacral Therapy, and Alexander Technique Ó 2001 Chaitanya Counseling and Stress Management Center