May 15, 2016

Dear Miss Osage,

Last week, a guy in my class asked me out, and I didn’t want to be mean, so I said ok. I really don’t like him though. I wish I hadn’t said it and now I don’t know what to do. I’ve been trying to stay away from the places I usually see him and hoping he forgets. Luckily, we’re not friends on Facebook. But I feel trapped. Please help!

Ooops, age 15

~ ~ ~

Well, as they say, the only way out is through…  Yup, I see what’s happened, and understand that you are uncomfortable. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to drum up even more courage now and set things straight.

Thanks for writing in to ask for some guidance. I’ll be glad to flush it out with you.

First, let’s take a look at what happened. It sounds like someone approached you in person and you weren’t able to be honest in the moment. This can happen. Growing up and developing character means having practice at being more and more honest in every situation. So consider it a step towards learning and becoming more authentic. This was a chance to learn what happens when you – don’t – speak honestly at the time.

Some people need more time to process, and that is ok. A good skill for these times is to be prepared with a list of responses to buy yourself some time. These can be:

“Thanks for asking, let me think about it…”
“I appreciate the offer, I’ll get back to you in a few days…”
“Oh, thanks, I’m not sure yet, so I’ll let you know…”

Of course, if you make reference to letting someone know – you have to let them know.

It is said that there are two ways to lessen the painful sensations of fear. 1 – you can avoid the thing that inspires the fear. 2 – you can face the thing that inspires the fear. The biological drive is the same – wanting to avoid the painful feelings that arise when faced with something we fear – though the outcomes are very different.

The other thing that happened was you made a self-judgment and edited yourself. What do I mean by that?  Well, you used what I consider one of the key indicators of inauthentic action. The phrase, “I didn’t want to be” immediately tells me you  were  something (feeling uncomfortable and registering a NO in your heart/body) and attempted to  act  as something else (the opposite of mean, some image of ‘nice’, etc.)

Saying no isn’t being mean. Everyone has the right to turn down an offer (of any kind!) and trust they are just as kind and worthwhile as a result. More important than ‘being nice’ is being honest and respectful. How can that look here? You might try:

“I was really surprised the other day when you asked me out, and I answered before thinking. I’m sorry. After sitting with it, I realize I’m not ready (this isn’t right for me) and I’ll have to say no thanks. I do appreciate you asking, though. I admire your courage.”

What?!  Approach him now and say all of that?   Yup.  That is the way through.

Even a slip-up or a moment of inauthenticity (not being real) can turn into an opportunity for even greater strength. This is what I suggest you do now.

How would respectful honesty have looked in the moment?  Let’s imagine this…

He:  “Would you go out with me?”
You:  “Oh, geez, I’m surprised that you asked… let me think about it”.

Totally honest, real and respectful. Here’s another one…

He: “Would you go out with me?”
You: “Oh, thanks for asking… I don’t know… can I let you know in a couple of days?”

[and a few days later]  “I thought it over and realized it’s not best for me, but thanks so much for asking. I appreciate your courage.”

Both of these options are fully kind and appropriate.

You are what you are, and you feel what you feel. Loving yourself means first accepting all of your own feelings and responses. Someone who wants to love you well would want this from you also. Loving well involves two true selves meeting in a space of respect and acceptance – even if one person is let down or scared. Everyone must face disappointment and it is far kinder to be honest and honor your connection by doing so. I’m sure you can feel the truth of this, especially when you imagine being on the other side of the situation.

So, again, I encourage you to approach him when you are ready and honestly admit what happened for you. You can give a lot of affirmation along the way. If this all rings true…

“I was really surprised the other day when you asked me out, and I answered before thinking. I’m sorry. After sitting with it, I realize I’m not ready (this isn’t right for me) and I’ll have to say no thanks. I do appreciate you asking, though. I admire your courage.”

… then I encourage you to rise to the occasion and bring your true self to the moment now.

Imagine how much better you’ll feel, once you get through.

Best of Luck ~

Miss Osage

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