As I walked my dog down the street, three neighbors converged and started talking about a book club. One yelled across the street, suggesting a particular title for the next meeting. I listened to this exchange, continued walking, and noticed that my head hung low. I started wondering, ‘Why wasn’t I a part of this book club?’ These types of thoughts, questions and self-criticisms arose in my head.
Was it because I was older? But K. was older than the other two. Was it because my child no longer lived at home? But, no, K did not have children. Was it because I was Jewish? (This fear came from years of feeling different because I was different (Jewish)). Was it because I wanted to be connected and my desire was received too strongly?
I felt like running back to them and asking them why I had been left out. I wanted to understand what I had done to alienate them from me.
Despite this pull to both inquire and confront, I walked on. I evaluated which of the neighbors felt the most comfortable to approach. I decided on C. She seemed genuinely friendly to me and we had little history of anything potentially complicated.
I walked down the next street. Lo and behold, C. was driving past me. There was a red light and I decided to seize the moment! I quickened my pace, got to her car, and said to her, “I’d love to be part of the book club.”
She smiled and said, “That would be great! I’ll let you know when the next book club is.”
There was no judgment, no questioning of my place in the neighborhood in my approach.
I breathed a happy sigh and continued on my way. Now my thoughts were positive and affirming. I had not attacked anyone nor had I conveyed my own self-criticism; I had gotten what I wanted by expressing my interest in a positive and open way. I recognized that this is something we all can do. Say what we want, straightforwardly. How can you find ways to say what you want, in an open and non-judgmental way?