Saying "No" in the Name of Mental Health
Let’s face it, we’ve all be in a position where we should’ve said no to an invitation, and didn’t in fear of hurting someone. I’ve found myself at several dinners, or events that I agreed to, knowing I would be miserable, but fearing I’d hurt my friends’ feelings who invited me. It’s a really crummy position to be in, because in one way you think you’re making your friend happy by being at their birthday party/bachelorette weekend/girls night, etc., while at the same time doing harm to your mental wellbeing. What friend wants you to feel that way? Here are my thoughts on “saying no”, and how you should address a situation you’re feeling less than excited about. Check out my stories and tips below.
Why is it so hard to say no to our friends? Because we don’t want to let them down, but are you letting yourself down by saying yes?
I learned this lesson the hard way last summer. I had committed myself to a conference for work (mind you, it was a WELLNESS retreat, so had I gotten there it would’ve been amazing), paid for the conference, flights, etc. I was so excited until the week of. Every time I thought about being at the conference, I got a pit in my stomach. Yale and I had just purchased our home, and I was set to depart the week after we were to move in. Of course, when I booked the conference, I didn’t know all of these events would overlap, but nonetheless, by the week of the retreat, I went into full panic mode. I had attended the retreat the previous year, and had a great time. However, the previous year I was not engaged, not planning a wedding and certainly didn’t think I’d be a brand new homeowner! I wanted to attend the conference for a second time because my friends were going, and I knew I’d have serious FOMO if I didn’t go!
To make a very long story short, I had to email the company who arranged the retreat, and told them I would no longer be attending for my mental health. In doing this, I lost a few thousand dollars that were spent on a non-refundable ticket I knowingly purchased. That crushed me. I still am a little angry with myself for not pushing through and going, because I knew once I got there I would’ve been fine. However, I made my decision, and that was that.
In making large decisions such as these, especially those that cost money, I think back to that conference. I never want to put myself in that situation again, even more so now that I am self-employed. This past summer I declined an invitation to a good friends bachelorette party. I knew I had to save my money for my other friends’ bachelorette (of which I am a bridesmaid in her wedding), and financially couldn’t swing both. Plus, the bride would’ve been the only person I knew at the bachelorette, which I knew would’ve put me into an anxious tailspin. It truly broke my heart to decline since she is such a great friend, but also knew it wasn’t in my best interest mentally (or financially) to attend.
When facing decisions regarding events, I think about two things: “how will I feel if I do go?”, and “how will I feel if I don’t?”. Thinking of it this way, or making a mental pros and cons list, usually helps make the decision for me. In terms of the friend who’s bachelorette I declined, she of course understood. I think if this person really is your friend, they’d always understand. I’m sure she was bummed, but as a friend, she didn’t want me to put myself in a situation I was uncomfortable with.
These are difficult decisions to make, don’t get me wrong. Often there are times that you cannot say no. I get that. But this post is about things you are able to say yes or no to, not non-negotiables like work events, etc. Here are my tips for you should you find yourself anxious about attending something like a birthday weekend or bachelorette party.
1- Make A Pros and Cons List: Will you be hurting the brides feelings to the point that it can affect your relationship by saying no?
2- Ask yourself “how will I feel if I do go?” and “how will I feel if I don’t?”. Hopefully that simple question will give you some clarity
3- Go with your gut. If you know you’re going to be miserable at your friends birthday weekend, say no. It’s not worth the money or anxiety it may cause you to go.
Do you say no to things you know won’t serve you or your mental health? How do you go about doing this? Leave a comment below or send me an Instagram DM!