Hi all,

A friend from a fledgling FWBO community has posted this on the topic of connectedness:

“…Where I struggle though is in accepting social invitations from people in group settings because I feel different and it seems like hard work…. For example, if I go out with people from my workplace or from some other non-Buddhist groups I'm involved with, I find that I can become uncomfortable when the conversation takes a particular turn, like complaining about a co-worker or talking a lot about things like home renovations. Sometimes I sit in silence if people are being mean & then I feel self-conscious. If people are talking about things like home renovations, I try to ask questions and be interested in what they're doing (like maybe they are trying to create a better environment for spending time together as a family) but to be honest, I get bored. Sometimes in these situations I can see that people are having a bit of a laugh with each other but I don't really share the same sense of humour & I feel self-conscious again.

…I think my dilemma isn't so much about communication skills as it is about wanting to find a sense of ease & authenticity with people. I would like it if I could sort of get out of my own road & not be thinking of myself/my reactions as much in these situations.

At the moment I feel like I make excuses not to participate in group dinners etc because I don't enjoy them much but I also understand that these things can be important for building a sense of community & friendship. I don't want to withdraw from people.”
I don’t know whether she’s heard of the Sixth Grave Precept yet: “See the perfection in others; do not speak of their errors and faults.” But I’m sure some advice from wiser heads than mine on this forum wouldn’t come amiss, especially as we’re due to start Jukai study soon.

Any suggestions?