It’s Okay To Let Friends And Family Down If It Means Avoiding This

The wiser part of you already knows the power in the word ‘no.’

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Every one of us has some variation of ‘alter ego.’ Some might call it their ‘inner voice’ while others might call it their conscience, but for the sake of consistency, let’s refer to it as your ‘wiser self.’ This is the part of you that becomes most prevalent when you know you are on the brink of breaking a promise, giving up, or abandoning a commitment to yourself. It is the same self that we deny priority over and over again until it forces its way in through catastrophe. This catastrophe can come in all different variances: breakups, being fired, death, terminal illness, financial struggle, or broken friendships. When push comes to shove, that’s when we begin to nurture the relationship we have with ourselves — the moment where we feel we have no one and nothing else.

This is quite literally the opposite of how we should be navigating life. We shouldn’t postpone making ourselves a priority, yet for some reason, the majority of us do.

So I’d like you to consider this: What would it mean for you to implement boundaries in your life that make living your life for you a non-negotiable?

I recently asked myself this question and the results were staggering. I wrote the names of the individuals I would create these boundaries with and the reason as to why it would be necessary to do so. The portion of my journal I dedicated to this exercise looked a bit like this by the end of the exercise:

*Please note: The names in this exercise have been changed*

Name: James

Boundary: Keeping things platonic

Why Am I Setting This Boundary Now? Because too much of my emotional wellbeing is still invested in our interactions

Actions to take in order to implement this boundary: Minimizing the frequency of conversations and keeping any conversations that do take place, about work and/or hobbies

Name: Sarah

Boundary: Engaging in conversations at times when it is convenient for me

Why Am I Setting This Boundary Now? Because I have sacrificed the progression of my current goals in order to cater to a friendship that is oftentimes one-sided

Actions to take in order to implement this boundary: Recreating my list of priorities so I am at the top

Notice there are obvious reasons for the need in establishing a boundary in these two examples; however, sometimes it isn’t all that clear nor easy. You could be someone with a small circle of friends and a great family relationship so the need for creating space might seem a little unwarranted, but believe me when I say, it is necessary. You cannot continue to spread yourself to a point so thin you find transparency in your own existence and the needs of others begin to come first.

Nowhere is it written that you get spiritual brownie points for being a martyr or playing small.

There is no benefit to setting yourself aside so you can make others happy. Contrarily, what will likely make others happy is a happy you. A happy you brings life forward, gives better, and loves better. However, in order to get happy, you have to start with courage — specifically the courage to say no. (Which by the way, is a complete sentence).

In the past, I wrote about what it means to have a ‘f*ck account’ and how when you look at ‘f*cks’ as ‘time,’ ‘energy,’ and ‘money,’ all of a sudden you become less likely to give them away so freely. When you consider giving away such limited and valuable resources, you begin to second guess what it is you really want to give those ‘f*cks’ to.

All of a sudden the optional work party becomes less important than a bubble bath at home with the book in hand you’ve been putting off since the holidays. Or the birthday party for the friend who never really bothered to be there for you doesn’t seem as necessary as the workout you know you need to do in order to reach your weight loss goals. The beautiful part about saying ‘no’ is that the more you say it, the less uncomfortable it becomes. Going with your gut becomes second nature and the need for explanation dissipates (eluding to the previous point made that ‘no’ is a complete sentence).

So ask yourself: What can I say ‘no’ to today in order to say ‘yes’ to myself tomorrow?

Ultimately, those who are truly for you will be unconditionally and without question. It is okay to let the friend of yours down who asked you to go shopping with them in order to finish the home project before the work week starts back up again.

It’s okay to let family, friends, and other people down so you can stop abandoning yourself.

It’s okay to say you’d rather stay home than go out, even if it’s not something you’re used to doing. It’s okay to say you’re too busy for a Facetime call, because you’ve finally found time in your afternoon schedule to do something for yourself. But what isn’t okay is saying no to yourself in order to say yes to others so habitually that you forget about yourself.

Written by

Writer. Poet. Philomath. Dog Mom. Traveler. Creator. Wanderer. Teacher. Empath. Author of “Unapologetically Human” - available on Amazon

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