Take a Break from Negative Self-Talk
Generally, I am the kind of person who follows through. If I make plans, I keep them. If I sign on to do something, I finish it. This means I am reliable and a person of my word. This has also had consequences, such as taking on too much and feeling the pressure to complete the tasks, burn out, or keeping plans and not cancelling when it might be the best thing I can do for myself. I am not advocating that I start cancelling things and outright breaking commitments, but those consequences taught me the valuable lesson of saying no. Not to be unkind, but politely and firmly saying no to commitments just because I was asked (being a bridesmaid, joining a board). Instead, once asked I have stepped back and taken some time to think about it: is it in line with my goals and values? Do I have time to commit to that thing, along with the other activities in my life? This has helped me to commit to only those things I feel a connection with; activities and roles that I feel are a benefit to the recipient, and to me. I want to do my best work, and it’s hardly fair to the other party if I only half show up.
All of which is to say, that I recently cancelled plans to visit family and friends in a city five hours drive from home. My heart was there, I wanted it and when I say I’m going to do something I usually follow through. In this case, the driving would be done during the long weekend, in a country celebrating its 150th birthday – a nightmare of gridlock I truly wanted to avoid. But the major issue was that I was planning to leave after just coming back from a very busy business trip to the west, which itself was preceded by a week-long visit to family and friends in the west. Suffice it to say, it had been a lot of back and forth, packing, airports and driving, and when I returned home, I just wanted to sleep; for days.
And so, I backed out. Barely 24 hours before I was due to arrive; I said I wouldn’t be able to visit. Everyone was quite good about it, which helped, but I am still holding back all the words I want to say about why I didn’t go. I am still feeling guilty. I appreciate having this topic in mind as I navigate the desire to talk about it – to everyone and anyone. Instead, I’ve been thinking about why I feel the need to discuss it at all. It’s done, there’s no going back. I’m looking for approval and permission in a way. I want to hear someone say that I made the right decision, that I was justified, that it wasn’t selfish or wrong. While I’m working hard not to let the words out of my mouth, I can give myself that speech in my mind. I spend a lot of time following through, and showing understanding when others are not able to do so. This means I have a kind of social capital – people know it is out of character for me to cancel last minute; I haven’t suddenly become flaky or unreliable in their minds. This is what I tell myself. This is part of what it means to not speak out, to not publicly berate myself, but instead have a quiet chat about why I feel the way I do, and how I can move through it without the constant discussion. I will admit this hasn’t solved itself in a day, but in keeping with this topic, I have given myself the space to question some internal assumptions and look at a new way to navigate these types of experiences.