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DEAR HARRIETTE: For most of my life, I have not gotten along with my brother. He always had to be the macho guy and have the last word. I used to think that we would stop communicating entirely when our parents died. In the past year, though, things have changed a lot. When we talk, the conversations are pleasant. No longer am I the only one who calls; he calls me, too. It’s almost like he is another person. I am afraid to trust that the way he is behaving now is real, but he has been kind to me for almost a whole year. Should I believe that he has changed, or should I keep my guard up? I want to have a relationship with my brother, but I’m nervous that he could hurt my feelings again. He used to be really mean to me. — Time To Forgive
DEAR TIME TO FORGIVE: It seems that your brother is making the effort to have a positive relationship with you. Why not take his behavior at face value and be present? You don’t have to let your guard down completely, but you can live in the moment and experience whatever happens. Who knows why he has decided to show up in your life? Enjoy it. Choose to engage him when he calls, and continue to call him. Holding on to grudges based on what happened in the past will not serve you or him. Deciding to engage with good intentions instead of judgment may continue to yield positive results.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend recently started a business, and I want to help her, but what she is doing does not interest me that much. She is so excited that she wants to talk about it constantly, for hours on end. I do not have the bandwidth to continue having these conversations for too much longer. How can I let my friend know that I want to be there for her without agreeing to do more than makes me comfortable? It is so hard. Her passion is palpable, but I am not interested in her idea, the products she is developing or anything else. I have my own life to live. I don’t want to shut her down or make her feel like her ideas aren’t important, but I really think she needs to join an organization that specializes in her area of interest so she can meet like-minded people. I cannot be everything for her, but she thinks that because I love her, I should have the capacity to do it all. How can I draw the line? — Drawing the Line
DEAR DRAWING THE LINE: Tell your friend how much you love her and how proud of her you are for pursuing her dreams. State specific things that you believe are outstanding about her current pursuit, what you have observed and how you believe she is headed in a positive direction. Then plainly tell her that while you support her in theory, her interests are so different from yours that you cannot walk hand in hand with her on this journey. Suggest that she find like-minded people to discuss her ideas with. Encourage her to expand her circle of professional friends who can help her develop her business.