Wednesday, April 15, 2009


The other day I caught myself doing that thing that I do—that internal dialogue where I tell myself that someone of the male species couldn’t possibly be interested in me.

I was in my car and pulled up to a four-way stop. Another car pulled up at the cross street on my right. I got there slightly before he did, but the law says that if two cars arrive at a four-way stop at the same time, the car on the right has the right-of-way, right? So I waited to see if he would accept having the right-of-way, or if he would let me go first because I got there first. Well, how do I describe the fleeting nanosecond of time that allowed me to label him gentlemanly? We looked at each other, as drivers do, having a clear view of each other, and he smiled. Most people don’t smile. Most people glance absently and keep on driving, which is exactly what I did. But in the millisecond it took for me to cross the intersection, I realized that he smiled, and I mentally took a step back to see where my thoughts had automatically gone. And there they were, chiding my self for daring to believe that a male would actually smile at me. And if he knew me, really, he would not have smiled. He probably wouldn’t even have noticed there was a car in front of him. That’s how invisible I make myself feel.

I have an idea where and when these tapes started to play in my mind, and I know they’ll stay there unless I replace them with more positive affirmations of my self-worth, but the frustrating thing is that they’re still there. Even though I recognize them. Even though I consciously want to change them. How silly is it not to smile at a stranger who first smiles at you, when they’re safely in their vehicle and do not pose any sort of threat?

Now if it had been a harmless female person, my smile would have been (I like to think) automatic.


  1. Practice smiling. It will get easier.
    I used to have a hard time hugging people (my sister still has a hard time with that). But I really wanted to be "that" kind of person - the kind (you know, the sweet old lady at church.. even if she isn't old, who would come put her arm around your shoulder when saying hi, or give you a hug (a real hug) when you really need one)).. You know.. 'that' kind of person. It was in me somewhere - but I had to work to get where I was comfortable reaching out physically that way. And I'm very comfortable with it now. It's wonderful. But the first while (year or more? I don't know how long it took. probably 30 years ;-) ) was scary and I just had to force myself out of my comfort zone.
    That said, I generally don't vote for forcing myself to do anything that far out of my CZ. ;-)

  2. It's good that you were able to notice where your thoughts went. Awareness and mindfulness are good things, especially in regards to a behavior that perhaps you'd like to change.

    I've learned that it's easier to change actions first, because the overpractice of a behavior leads to changes in thought.

    They actually have positive affirmations on CD that you can buy. Maybe even on iTunes. I have a friend who tried listening to them for thirty days and she said it made an amazing difference. It was still tough somedays, and it was a lot easier to believe the positives she was hearing. She said she wasn't as hard on herself.

    You're right...he was a stranger and you'll probably never see him again. But that doesn't mean you can't smile at the next stranger who happens to smile at you.

  3. Smile all day long.

    And I agree that it is good you can recognize.


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