Your friend just texted you.
“Want to go out with me tonight? I’m just going to meet a few friends down at P&Ps around 8 or 9pm. Why don’t you come with?”
Should you go? You don’t really want to. You just got everything cleaned up at home and were about to get settled in for the evening. Plus it’s cold outside, and going out means you’d have to get all bundled up again.
But, what if you don’t? Will she be mad at you? Will she make you go anyway because she will think you haven’t gotten out enough lately? Have you done enough lately to “move on”?
It’s not like you’ll feel better after you go. It’s probably only going to make you feel more exhausted.
So, why do you still feel bad about saying no?
You’re not even interested in going. Or at least not for the reason she has in mind.
She’s going out to look for guys, and you know you wouldn’t be going out for that reason. Ever since you lost your loved one, that’s what people have been saying: to get out and meet someone new. But to you it doesn’t feel that simple. That’s why you’re stuck in this place to begin with - because you LOVED, they were so important to you, and starting again now that they are gone is not a light switch to just flip back on after a bit.
Plus, you’ve forced yourself to go on walks or go out with her before, but you can’t help wonder what good is really coming from it. It’s not that they are any harder than anything else. It’s that it all just adds up to being exhausting.
So, you just have to wonder what good is forcing yourself to go out anyway?
First of all, yes, emotions can be exhausting. You know it. I know it. And it probably feels like most everyone else doesn’t know or doesn’t understand it. They just want to know why you’re not over it yet. But really, you’ve been traveling the waves of ups and downs for months, even years now.
But here’s the other thing, all this mental gymnastics trying to decide on even the simplest of things is ALSO exhausting. Wondering to go out tonight or tomorrow or this weekend or next week is really not addressing the root of what’s going on.
The root is that you are experiencing a lot. You have been for a while. I mean, how can you expect yourself to just pick up the way things were before? It doesn’t work that way. This stuff is hard.
But it doesn’t have to be so hard.
It’s a little easier when you can let go of all the extra head spinning that this one invitation has caused in your head.
I mean, have you started thinking about yet what will happen if you tell her “no” for the second time? Or the fourth time? Or if you never say “yes” again?
Here’s what I do to stop this head spinning in its tracks and give myself some space to just rest so I can keep doing the things that matter - like meet new people that I actually want to be friends with or actually take the initiative to do something nice for my sisters so we can stay close even as they have their own lives now.
It all boils down to one word: priorities.
You know you’ve had fun before.
You’ve done things you’ve enjoyed.
You’ve even spent time with people you wanted to be around.
So it’s not true that you never go out. You have before.
It’s not true that you don’t have friends. You have had good friends before.
And even if things have changed and they aren’t here now, what you’ve had before is still evidence that enjoying what you do is still possible for you.
You know what it feels like to feel good about what you are doing.
So what makes you feel that way now?
I bet right now it’s not going to P&Ps to meet guys at 9pm tonight.
But I bet there is something.
And I even bet you have already done that something this week. Or this month.
This is what I mean about priorities.
The mental gymnastics spiral only happens when it’s not really something you know you enjoy. If it was, you’d already have done it!
Or you would have done what you needed to do so you can do it next week!
That’s because you prioritize what is important to you.
So who cares about going to do something tonight that you don’t enjoy, if you are already choosing to do things that you know do bring you a little joy?
Especially if you enjoy meeting new people, if you’re not enjoying the evening, do you really want to make new friends that don’t enjoy the things you do? Of course not!
The people you really want to meet are people who enjoy what you enjoy. So don’t bother forcing yourself to be somewhere or do something you know you won’t enjoy because you know when something is a priority for you, you do it.
Plain and simple.
Here’s a short reflection exercise (best done in a journal or talking to yourself) that uses your own priorities to sort out what you’re going to do tonight (and learn how to sort this decision out more quickly next time too).
Because here’s the truth: no one else really cares what your priorities are.
Most people are usually thinking about themselves in situations like this. So if you tell your friend “no” - she might be disappointed at first, but believe me, she’ll get over it and it’s better for you both that she find another wing woman or man because you have other priorities you are here to attend to.
So be honest with yourself. In the end, the only person you hurt by not being honest is YOU.
Is this something I really care about doing?
Does it bring me joy to do this? Has it brought me joy in the past? (If it has, it can again, but you may have to let yourself feel a lot of emotions to get there, so you don’t have to do it today if you’re not there yet.)
Does this group of people embody the qualities I look for in the people I want to give the honor of spending time with me? (It’s a privilege for people to spend time with YOU. Do you want to give that honor to this person?)
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, whatever you are “forcing” yourself to do is probably not a priority right now. That’s ok!
You have permission to change and change your mind and change it again. So be who you are today. You can worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
For more help with tough spots like these, check out my free Insider's Guide for the single best way to restore real relationships with family and friends (even if you're kinda mad about what they've done).
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