Q. I have been married for a wonderful nine months to the man that I truly want to spend the rest of my life with, but I have two pressing concerns that I think might be related.

The first is that I am chronically shy and have no idea how to overcome this problem. When my husband and I go to functions, I find it extremely difficult to approach people. I prefer lurking in the corner and leaving ASAP. My husband is far more socially adept than I, and I long to enjoy the functions that we go to without becoming this person who cannot seem to move, talk, or speak.

The second problem is that I am extremely jealous about my husband--not in the sense that I think he would do anything, but jealous about how he cares for his staff at work. He's a manager and he spends time with them--looking after them and socializing with them. I want to be number one in his life, and even though I know that I am, I need him to constantly show me that.

I love my husband more than anything, and we have an excellent relationship when it's just the two of us or with a couple of really close friends. But how can I overcome this shyness and jealousy?

It's obvious, Michelle, that you have a lot of insight into your difficulties, and it's truly helpful that you want to change. However, as you have already seen, overcoming jealousy is very difficult and changing your personality from shy to outgoing is almost impossible.

Most people who are shy were born that way, and it's unrealistic to believe that you can become outgoing when that is not your basic nature. Your goal is not so much to move, talk, and speak differently as it is to bring enjoyment and comfort to the ways you naturally behave. So your first step is simply to observe without condemnation.

Look more closely at how the shyness and jealousy operate within you, at how your husband truly feels about you, and at how other people who are shy, outgoing, or somewhere in between actually function in social settings. Practicing this, you will begin to see what specific thoughts send you to lurk in the corner, what thoughts bring on the feeling of needing to leave, and what triggers the jealousy.

By practicing observing how different personality types fit together at social functions, you will begin to see that at least some of the people who talk little and seldom approach others can still be quite happy and pleasant to be around--because they are comfortable with the way they are. And as you become more conscious about how your discomfort works, and more accepting of your own reactions, you will also become more accepting of the way your husband is, and this will begin to lessen the jealousy.

The structure that goes on that foundation of increased awareness is the second step: making peace a part of your attitude before you enter potentially distressing situations, whether upcoming social events or periods in which your husband will be devoting himself to his staff.

This has nothing to do with making rules, planning how to behave, or "psyching" yourself up. Rather, you want to spend time preparing your mind so that the stillness and peace of your heart are available to you in that situation. This puts into place a reservoir of peace from which you can draw.

Fear cuts us off from the greatest source of strength available to us--our oneness with each other and with God. Notice that when you feel jealous, you don't feel one with your husband or anyone else. And when you are afraid in social situations, you aren't feeling God's loving arms surrounding you. We suggest that before you go to any function, first spend time preparing for the event by closing your eyes and connecting with the love you feel for your husband, which is a reflection of God's love for you.

Once your mind is flooded with love, simply picture yourself at peace in the midst of the people who will be there. Practicing this is surprisingly helpful because you are using your mind to unite behind a single loving goal. And the more you do it, the more deeply you will believe in the truth behind the practice--which is that peace is always with you and a part of you. This won't turn you into the life of the party, but it will enable you to remember the Source of your strength and comfort whenever fear or jealousy tempts you.

Once you begin to experience even a little peace in social situations or during those occasions when your husband is with his staff, your trust in yourself and in your husband will begin to grow. The keys are not to fight distressing emotions but to look for the fearful thoughts behind them, to remember that you are not alone in any situation, and to practice, practice, practice. The simple truth is that God is always with you and God is peace.

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