The older I get, the more I realise this is really important. Do you ever sit back and consider if you spend time with people you don’t actually want to spend time with? A potentially controversial question but one we do need to ask ourselves. Admittedly, there are certain times when this can be difficult to address, particularly if it’s in a work situation, which is often unavoidable, but what about your personal life? Do you feel there are situations where you feel obliged to do this, perhaps if it’s a family / extended family scenario, or one of those situations where a close friend has invited you to a party or a night out with an extended group of their friends who you’re not quite familiar with? If so, do you feel that on certain occasions, you have no option but to say yes? There is a train of thought which suggests that saying yes to everything can be life-affirming and open up many new doors but let’s be brutally honest here – a lot of us don’t feel that way 100% of the time.
The thing is, you do have an option. We all have an option. We have the option not to get involved, especially if there is something you would rather be doing instead, or someone else you would rather be spending that time with. Quite often I’m sure many of us say yes just to keep the peace or to not cause issues for those people we truly care about, though we should always be comfortable in knowing that it is possible to say no; when it is possible to say “I’m sorry but that’s just not for me right now” (or something along those lines). We can certainly remain civil and polite whilst doing this. True friends and family, the ones who really count, will hopefully always understand.
Part of the problem is that I’m sure many of us are obligers. It seems to be an especially British character trait. Most of us will say yes to invitations which we don’t really want to attend, primarily as we don’t want to cause a scene, or have a potentially difficult conversation, or put a loved one in a difficult situation. However, the older I get (there’s that phrase again…), the more comfortable I am in saying no.
Let’s reframe the scenario. If someone told you that you could make decisions for a whole calendar year and there would be no repercussions from them – no difficult conversations to be had or negative reactions to address – would you do anything differently? Would your life change? What would you say no to? What would you do more of? Who would you spend more time with?
If you have many answers to these questions, why aren’t you living life that way? Or at least partially that way, to begin with? Wouldn’t life be much better? Wouldn’t you lead a more fulfilled life? Wouldn’t you be less stressed and much happier? Unless it’s an extreme situation, saying no a little more often won’t leave you friendless or ostracised from your family. It might just be the most important skill you learn in your life. Something for us all to ponder…
As always, thanks for reading, stay safe and be kind to yourself and others.