DR. WALLACE: I just moved to Vancouver at the beginning of this current school year. For a long time, I was pretty much a "loner" at school, but recently, I met this really nice guy. We talked for a few days, and then he finally asked me out. I was ecstatic. But the very next day, I came crashing back to reality. This boy told me he couldn't go out with me because he was actually going steady with another girl who lives in another town, but he said he still wanted to be friends. I agreed.
Well, he calls me every night, and we talk sometimes for hours. At school, he looks for me, and we spend our free time together. He treats me like his girlfriend but not when it comes to romance. I really like him! I dream about him at night and daydream about him during the day. It's a frustrating situation, and I'm at a loss as to what do about it.
Please tell me what to do. I'm really confused. — Unsatisfied, Vancouver, Washington
UNSATISFIED: It's time to have a heart-to-heart chat with this young man. Tell him that you care for him and it's obvious that he cares for you. Ask if he has serious feelings for the girl he is going steady with. If he says yes, then tell him to spend more time calling her and stop spending so much time with you. Let him know that if they are still a couple, it's disrespectful to her for him to be spending so much time with you.
If he says no, then tell him it's time to be honest and break up with her and start going out with you, as you would enjoy him being truly free without it impacting another person. Sometimes being direct is the best thing for a fledgling friendship that contains overtones of a potentially more serious romantic relationship.
No matter how things turn out, either way, he will likely respect the way you handled things. You will feel good about yourself for being proactive and putting an end to the "limbo" situation you've been finding yourself in lately.
HOW TO CHANGE OUTLOOK
DR. WALLACE: I need help with strategies on how to turn a negative outlook on life — and things in general — into a sunnier one. Lately, I've started to think and act in a pretty negative way, and I'd like that to change in a hurry. I'm starting to realize that if I really don't like my own attitude, others are likely to tolerate it even less. After all, dealing with me is voluntary for everyone but my family members. Your suggestions would be most welcome. ... Help! — Needing a New Outlook, via email
NEEDING A NEW OUTLOOK: It sounds naive, but it's quite true that a lot of behavior and attitude emanates from the words we speak aloud. Yes, we must think before we speak, but for most people, the difference in lapsed time between thinking a thought and speaking about it is but a fraction of a millisecond.
My advice is to slow yourself down and truly take care to watch what comes out of your mouth. Don't criticize others and don't put yourself down, either. Try hard to make positive or at least earnest statements and comments whenever you deal with others or are in public. If, by chance, you do say something negative about someone or some situation, consciously follow it up with a few positive comments to balance things out. Then strive to not repeat similar negativity going forward.
I'm not suggesting that you become a Pollyanna with your comments by any means. Just gradually focus on cutting out and tamping down any and all negative thoughts before they are spoken aloud as words coming from your lips. Utilizing your subconscious is also a great way to adjust your disposition. Start by making a list of all the good things you have in your life. Literally take out a sheet of paper and write down any and everything you are thankful and grateful for. Keep that paper handy and refer to it each morning and evening when you start and end your day.
One more idea is to repeatedly recite a positive statement internally or quietly to yourself throughout the day, such as: "Every day, it's easier and easier for me to notice the good and ignore the bad." Say this an additional dozen times or so before bedtime, and add in a comment or two on how thankful you are for who you are and the good things you have in your life. Your mind will begin to adjust sooner than you realize. Good luck and stick with it. I trust you'll move quickly towards that "sunnier" outlook you indicated was your goal.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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