Calm and stillness

blogpic, pixabay, lake, tree, reflection

I used to date this guy, let’s call him Guy.

We were both very social and were part of many groups of friends. One weekend, as we were having lunch with his parents, I looked at him and said, ‘I’m not feeling too well maybe this afternoon I’ll just stay in and have a bath?’. His mum overheard this and said to me, ‘if you don’t go, they might not invite you again’. Needless to say, I didn’t have that bath but instead went to takeaway night with Guy and his friends.

Why is it so hard to say ‘no’? Why did I feel like I could not afford to say ‘no’? Well, I did not want to disappoint anyone and I also didn’t want to be a disappointment. I think sometimes I avoid saying ‘no’ so that I can avoid any conflict. What could I have told Guy’s mum that wouldn’t make her feel uncomfortable? I didn't want to hurt anyone’s feelings and so the easiest (in the short term) was just to go.

This was many years back and I’ve since learned my lesson. I still struggle with saying ‘no’, but I am aware of it and try my best to keep working at being kind, brave, and true. I’ve realised as I’ve gotten older that my closest friends would love it if I took some time just for myself. They would never use my absence as a reason not to invite me again next time. Our friendship has been forged through the many, many years of reckless teenage youth, epic 20s adventures, grounding ourselves in our 30s, and supporting each other through promotions, sicknesses, marriages, divorces, childbirths, child losses, long distance, and many, many more. 

Coming back to the question though - why do we find it hard to say ‘no’? And why is ‘no’ unpleasant to hear? What does it mean if we’re told ‘no’? What do we lose if we say ‘no’?

What if instead of worrying too much about doing more than others, or panicking about what other people could be thinking or saying, what if I paused and took a breath to calmly think about what really matters? Brene Brown suggests saying, ‘I’m not sure. I need to think about this some more'.

Each of us needs to take the time to set our priorities straight and to understand our limits. What’s the most important thing in our lives? What’s the next most important thing? What are we going to say no to so we can focus on those things? What are we going to say no to (or yes to) in order to protect our personal happiness and peace? The key isn’t to always do more, more, more, but sometimes to do less so that we can do more of what we care most about.Ryan Holiday

Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle. *This is part of a blog series from my reflections during Mental Health Awareness Month and integrating the guideposts from Brene Brown’s book, the Gifts of Imperfections in my HDR experience.

Tagged in What messes with your head, mental health awareness, phd, anxiety