If I was going to tell you a few things about me, it invariably would come up that I’m a planner. Part of my story would be: I lock plans in place well in advance, my diary is arranged weeks, if not months, ahead.
The planning doesn’t stop there. I’ve had conversations with my sister about how, when she gets married, I will be in charge of planning her wedding day (she was probably joking, I was mentally going through all the things that would need to be done) and my husband and I refer to me as the ‘social secretary’ – I’m in charge of our plans as a couple.
But for the past few days, I’ve felt a strange aversion to putting any plans in place at all. The only way I can describe it is how I’ve gone off soup since being pregnant. The thought of eating anything soup-like makes my stomach turn. And the idea of putting any plans in place gives me that same feeling of disgust.
So why am I sharing this with you, dear friend? Partially in hope that friends will read this and not feel offended when I don’t want to make any plans. Heck, that you will not even ask me to put plans in place with you over the next few months.
But the reason I’m writing this is also because I know that I need to do things differently, I need a different response to live a life of less plans and greater freedom. I need to learn how to say ‘no thanks‘ or ‘let’s just play things by ear‘. I need to work out how I might change my plan-filled diary to one that has space for me to be spontaneous.
I take inspiration from my husband who, yesterday morning, saw there was an Oktoberfest event at our favourite spot in Brighton, Cafe Plenty, texted a load of friends to see if they were free and ended up with a table full of friends to hang out with. So I know it can be done…but when I think about doing things differently myself I feel a number of different things…
Hurting other people
Saying no feels really uncomfortable if I think about how the other person might feel. To me, it seems to indicate the following:
- You’re not a priority to me
- I have better things to do than see you
- I don’t care about you
And if someone said these things to me, I know I’d feel really hurt.
But I know that this is not what I’m saying when I want to hold back from filling up my diary. What I’m really saying is:
- I respect myself and my need to have more space and freedom in my life
- I feel so much pressure in my life right now – I need to take a step back and give myself some breathing room
- I’d love to see you, let’s just be a bit fluid about when that is
I’ve noticed that it’s harder for me to say no when someone says ‘I’ve got something for you, can we get together?‘ It’s like there’s an added pressure to fit them in because of not wanting to snub their offering and be rude.
But I want to remember that the other person isn’t trying to buy me and, if they are trying to buy me, I don’t want to be bought. In truth, I’m sure that the other person is being generous and kind and I’m sure that their offering is not dependent on me dropping everything to see them in the near future.
So I need to listen to my own voice saying ‘you shouldn’t make plans‘ over that which says ‘you shouldn’t be rude‘. I’ve got to remember that respecting my boundaries, giving myself space, having time just for me isn’t rude.
And even if it is rude, it’s what I need. And that’s more important than what other people think.
The principle of being authentic, honest, truthful is so important to me. It’s why this website of mine is so dear to my heart as it allows me a weekly, if not daily, practice of being authentic and expressing myself to the world.
When I was speaking to my coach, Helen, about my need to make less plans in a coaching session this week, I explored how I might be able to not just push plans with friends back (i.e. ‘can we meet next month instead?’) but be able to not even put plans in place in the first place to give myself a bit more breathing room.
At the end of our session, I realised that the answer probably lies in being my authentic self – sharing with other people that I’m feeling overwhelmed with life at the moment and that I need more space, quiet and time to reflect in order to stay afloat.
So I think this will be part of my journey to having more space in my life – being open and honest with friends about what I need and why I need it.
There is so much more I could write to explore why I find it so hard to respect my new need for freedom, but my gut says that the important thing is to get practicing. To say ‘let’s just see how things work out’ even though I feel discomfort in saying it, to be ok saying ‘it’s so kind that you’ve got some stuff for me, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to see you though’ and to share how I’m feeling when people invite me to take part in their lovely, generous plans.
I know this different way of living – having greater space and freedom – is part of my desire to have a life of greater courage, truth and love. It won’t always be easy, but I know that it will be worth it.