How many times in your life have you begrudgingly said “Yes” when you really wanted to say “No”? You had good intentions. You didn’t want to hurt their feelings by saying “No”, so you said “Yes”. And whatever it was, a birthday party, an event, a good deed, a visit with friends or family, it should have been fun. It should have made you feel good. But it became an obligation and you were angry with yourself for the resentment welling up inside of you, leaving you wondering “to what end?”
Or, better yet, you get invited to an event and instead of saying “No” because you knew you did not want to attend, you waited until the last second to RSVP, hoping something would come up as a valid excuse; not just one that sounded reasonable to the host but one that would make you feel a little less horrible about yourself for not wanting to attend in the first place. What are we doing to ourselves? What is so terrible about saying No?
We overly-focus on outward appearances, on being polite and as a result, blatantly ignore our body’s instinctual desire to protect our precious time. Because it’s important. You know you have nothing definitive planned that Sunday afternoon and are available to attend that event, but it is one of your only free weekend days for the entire month and you want to do NOTHING. And that is ok. It’s okay. It is reason-enough.
We are doing ourselves nor the host any favors with our disgruntled appearance. Even when we “fake it until we make it” we leave feeling depleted. We showed up for our host, but now have nothing else for our immediate family members, our coworkers or ourselves. What was truly gained?
I was recently faced with this issue when a good friend that I haven’t seen in years invited himself to an event I was looking forward to attending on my own. I needed alone time. As I tried to talk myself into the benefits of getting to see this friend, I felt my heart quicken at the thought of losing this precious time I had set aside to recharge, at my own pace, without having to think of anyone else. I was up all night thinking about it before I finally called him back the next day and said, “I’m sorry, I really will miss seeing you but this is something I just need to do for myself.”
Before making the call, I decided a true friend would not judge me- they would inherently understand. The number of years we had remained friends did not determine the closeness or value of our friendship. I realized I was risking losing a friend over hurt feelings but that a friend that shunned me for putting my mental-health first was not a friend I needed, at least in this phase of my life. So when he laughed and said, “No problem, Lauren! I totally understand.” I exhaled. The anxiety I had built-up obsessing over the call was 100 times worse than the outcome and isn’t that so often the truth? Our fear immobilizes us, keeps us up at night and only exhausts us further.
It is only when we embrace our truth, ourselves for who we truly are and how we truly feel that we are freed. Free to surround ourselves with only those that love us as we are and where we are. Free to put our own needs first, without guilt or reservation.
Because in the end, when we take care of ourselves, we take care of others. We recharge our batteries so that we can be our best selves for those that truly matter most.
So, today, I challenge you to liberate yourself. Embrace your limitations. Let go of your fear. Gather your courage, revel in the freedom and Just. Say. No!
Photo by Camille Vaughan Photography