By Alecia Rice
Q: I attended a wedding of an acquaintance of my partner. We helped with wedding setup, donated money to defray expenses, and I even sent a message afterward thanking them for including me in their special day, with no acknowledgment. Later, a thank you card arrived, addressed solely to my partner with no mention of me. I feel like I’ve been ignored and I’m not sure what to do with my hurt feelings. — Wedding Blues
A: Dear Wedding Blues,
My guess is that the lack of acknowledgment speaks more to a lack of presence due to intense wedding planning and the exhale from it being over, instead of a slight directed at you, but we can consider some other things.
In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, one of the agreements is “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” Anything that others say or do (or don’t do) is a projection of their own reality. This one small concept is huge in holding our own space which can alleviate symptoms of perceiving ourselves as victims.
When taking things personally, I invite people to play the “What if…?” game, which encourages searching the landscape for other possibilities as to why that person may have reacted that way for counterbalance. An example would be, “What if…they didn’t realize ALL that I did in support of their special day?” For many, wedding day details can become a blur because it’s packed with so much excitement and so many people.
Confusing situations can cause our pain body to rise up, which causes us to view people’s non-actions through a painful, twisted lens that confirms why we’re not enough. “What if..?” can help neutralize the pain of feeling that one has been slighted by considering other possible explanations that aren’t personal. This can be an effective exercise for people who are insecure about their value to others. It can assuage “less than” feelings by understanding that there are many things that could have caused another to overlook our contributions.
One might also ask the question, “Would I have done anything differently if I knew I wouldn’t be acknowledged afterward?” Sometimes this can help unearth realizations about what drives our subconscious decision-making, which can bring clarity to our motivations and subsequent disappointment.
One last suggestion comes from another of The Four Agreements: “Don’t Make Assumptions.” This beckons us to find the courage to ask questions to clarify circumstances. This helps tamp down issues of self-blame, hurt feelings and needless drama. If there’s something about this situation that you just can’t release, then go to the source to help you with clarity. My guess is that it was a mere oversight.
Q: I’m a senior who has drastically changed my beliefs and the way I live over the last several years. My family doesn’t understand me and they harshly judge my new ways. How do I deal with this? — Silver Rebel
A: Dear Silver Rebel,
This reminds me of the delightfully rebellious poem entitled Warning: When I’m an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple, where she writes about “making up for the sobriety of her youth.” Please look it up. You just might see yourself in it.
My advice is shared in a context where we’re still being responsible and not hurting ourselves or others with the changes we’re making. That said, what a great time in your life to have the courage to change things up to see how they feel! We’re never too old to try new things.
Are you happy with your new life? If so, you’re entitled to live in new, unconventional ways. It’s not unusual to reach one’s senior years realizing that much of life has been lived toeing the line to set good examples while meeting the needs of our family, job and community. If we can’t break free of certain beliefs and rules in our senior years, then when can we?
I often talk about close relationships being like a dance. Each person becomes accustomed to dancing a certain dance with us based upon who we’ve been. When we change, the dance steps change, which often throws others off because most of us don’t deal with change well—especially with big changes in others close to us. Most of us feel awkward learning new dances, so it’s not unusual for them to try to goad us back into being who we were before so they’re comfortable again. The “dance” may feel awkward for a while until others finally become accustomed to relating to our new ways, so just stay at it.
Alecia Rice integrates higher concepts with wisdom to bring forth balance, perspective and clarity. She’s a personal advisor, speaker and gatherer of women. For perspective on life issues, you’re invited to text questions and comments to 681-321-1109. Discussions continue at Ask Alecia on Facebook.