I'm a bit cranky today. First of all, I know I owe you guys more of a story about the mysterious Barnaby Jepperboom--which I will deliver eventually--but for now let me say that he's a friend of a friend, and we've been enjoying a minor dalliance. (We met during that weekend when I went to a karaoke diner; Barnaby was the one I sang that Dylan song with.) Over the past two or three weeks, in addition to hanging out a few times, we've been in constant email touch, which was so fun that Barnaby was better than Prozac when it came to enhancing my mood. This week, however, he seems to have gotten sick of me, and I miss him.
In other cranky news: I went to a Guitar-Hero-themed party last night at The Nintendo Store in Rockefeller Center; and while I was waiting for the friend I was meeting, a cute guy who was unlocking his bike from a street sign began chatting me up.
"It's a great night for a bike ride," he said.
"I know!" I replied. "It's too bad I took the subway and left my Raleigh in Brooklyn. But I thought it was going to be too cold."
"Ah, you're a biker too?" he said. ... We bantered a bit--but when my friend emerged from the store to pull me inside with her, I did not get the dude's phone number. And I did not flirt one bit with any of the gazillions of strangers at the party, either. A wasted night!
And I call myself a professional flirt! Bah!
Not done yet: One more thing that's frustrating me: There's no guarantee my novel (which I've been working on for FIVE YEARS) will EVER be published ... and the process of getting it ready to send to editors for consideration is taking forever ... and it seems like every other human being I meet in New York City has already published a book. Or seven! Sigh.
I'm feeling like a professional failure as much as a relationship failure.
On that note ... it's no huge secret that I sometimes have self-critical thoughts that are, perhaps, overly negative. I can often be found asking myself questions like: "What the hell is wrong with me? Why do I suck so bad? Why am I so much less attractive than other people?" (I'm doing it aplenty this week.)
So, since I've heard that cognitive-behavioral psychologists are great at helping people overcome "negative thought habits"--and since I'm increasingly fed-up with my own old-school shrink, she of the Freudian school--I contacted Dr. Aldo Pucci, president of the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists to ask for some assistance.
Dr. Aldo, author of Feel the Way You Want to Feel ... No Matter What!, began our discussion by pointing out that any negative or bothersome thoughts that do not help me to achieve my goals--including my goal of feeling happy--are worthless.
Hmm ... Tres interesting, no? And rather enlightening: Part of the reason why I'm always trying to figure out what's so wrong with me is so I can "fix" it and therefore become happier and more fulfilled. Yet, of course, this constant search to identify my flaws can make me really unhappy, and instead of making me feel better about myself, it usually just makes me feel like dog vomit.
For instance, I do think it was helpful to realize, as I did earlier this year, that it might behoove me to put a little more effort into dressing attractively (something that can be hard to do on a freelancer's budget) ... and yet constantly thinking I'm not smart enough (or pretty enough or successful enough) to attract an awesome dude isn't doing me much good.
Anyway, Dr. Aldo continued by inviting me to tell him my "favorite" negative thoughts--so he could help me assess them.
MAURA: Here's something I get hung up on frequently: Every romantic relationship I've ever had didn't work out, so surely, no romantic relationship ever will.
DR. ALDO: This thought is an example of two mental mistakes: jumping to conclusions and irrational hopelessness. Just because no romantic relationship ever "worked out" doesn't mean you don't have the potential to both find the person who is right for you and to maintain that relationship. Of course, it's important to examine the reasons, as best as you can determine, why different relationships haven't worked out in the past, and to correct anything you can correct--but it's equally important not to lose hope or give up!
MAURA: I also often find myself thinking--especially during my year of living flirtatiously--If I was worth pursuing, I wouldn't have to think twice about learning how to be a good flirt.
DR. ALDO: Again, you're jumping to conclusions that are not based on fact. Women of all levels of attractiveness have reported to me the very same frustration -- men do not approach them! There are many reasons a guy would not pursue a woman that have nothing to do with how attractive she is, including:
-- he figures you are already taken
-- he believes you would not be interested in him
-- he is already in a relationship.
It's also possible he is not interested in you for a number of reasons that you don't have much control over: because you are too short or too tall for his tastes; too thin or too large; too young or too old; too smart or not smart enough; and so on.
Many men are not nearly as comfortable approaching women as women might think they are. Therefore: IF you want to increase the chances that you will find the guy that's right for you and have a nice life together, being willing to take the first step is important.
MAURA: Awesome! That's kind of the whole point of my blog: Live flirtatiously and you will enhance your romantic odds.
Lovelies: What do you think of Aldo's advice? I hope it has lifted your spirits a little today, if they needed lifting.
[[[BONUS MUSICAL PICK-ME-UP: It's a surprise. But trust me, you wanna click on this. ]]]