Ben Claassen III (For Express)

Q. A good friend of mine is hog-wild into astrology, superstitions, the idea that if you visualize things hard enough you can make them happen, etc. It makes her seem less intelligent than she is, and I cringe when she is in larger groups talking about these things. For instance, she sincerely believes that our personalities are completely dictated by when we were born, and it’s among the first things she asks when she meets someone new. I get embarrassed for her (or maybe of her?) when she is like this around others. —Shaking My Head

I can understand how cringeworthy this is — maybe it’s the Sagittarius in me — but you’re taking on too much mental responsibility for how your friend appears to others. Sure, if she was your wife, favorite professor or spiritual adviser, then her worldview would reflect something more significant about who you are as a person. But as it is, she’s just a friend whom you’ve embraced for her other qualities, and you need not be defined by any given set of her beliefs; it’s not like she’s performing animal sacrifice.

We tend to forget how diversity of viewpoints can be an asset in friendships, not a problem. And as for worrying about what judgments people might make of her, she’s a grown-up and this is who she is. So, no need to co-sign on her advice about visualizing wads of cash, but no need to go out of your way to distance yourself or try to censor her either. Let her be, and everyone is free to make up their own minds.

Looking for the way out

Q. I am looking to move away from a controlling relationship in the most seamless way possible. I know I need to leave but I am unsure about how to actually make this happen, how to move on without hurting anyone. —Need to Leave

Good for you. Of course you don’t want to hurt “anyone,” but the most important thing I can do in this space is convince you that it’s you that you should be most concerned with. I am not sure where you are in this process logistically, or how much physical help you may need, but it is so important for you to keep moving forward.

You will likely have second thoughts, fear, guilt and sadness — all natural reactions — but don’t let them keep you stuck. Most people in controlling relationships have gotten all too used to worrying about the well-being of others at the expense of their own selves. So, enlist a support team that will consistently help you give yourself permission to put your own well-being first. Friends, family, co-workers, a therapist — the more solid, honest and trustworthy the connections, the better. Additional help can be found at thehotline.org.

Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at baggage@wpost.com.

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