People often express a feeling that when they commit to an engagement, they need to follow through, even if they have second thoughts.
Let’s use the example that you agree to meet a friend at a designated time and place. But as you approach the date, the prospect of getting your energy up, going out and showing up feels beyond your capacity. You recognize that you’re exhausted and yearn for solo time to decompress.
Yet the idea of canceling feels yucky. It’s been a while since you’ve seen your friend, you know they’re excited about getting together and you feel a responsibility to honor your word and your commitment.
Inner conflict ensues and you don’t know what to do. Should you go or should you stay? Take care of your needs or attend to your friend?
What’s your priority? What to do?
This scenario serves as a simple illustration of one of the biggest challenges we face, that of bringing self into relationship with other. And the challenge is that it need not be an “either-or.”
The key is honoring self and honoring other.
The following template works to accomplish this mission.
- Sit with yourself and discern what’s true for you:
Be compassionate with yourself about all that’s kicked up. You’re depleted and need quiet time. You don’t want to disappoint your friend. You love them, want to see them and want to feel good when you get together.
- Extend courtesy:
Inform your friend ASAP of your situation.
- Speak your truth:
“I know we planned to get together. I miss and value you and I’m exhausted….. “
- Add the “And” not the “But”:
“… AND I’m aware that I feel depleted and need some solo self-care time.”
“I really want to see you. Can we plan for another time next week?”
- Lastly, follow through:
Schedule time to get together and make it happen.
Remember that friendships require an investment of time, energy and emotion, but not at a cost to ourselves. When we sacrifice ourselves, count on frustration, resentment or anger flaring up. They inform us that our needs are going unmet. Projecting these feelings on your friend is misplaced and gums up the relationship.
And remember, when you share what’s true for you, you’re offering an inside view of who you are, thereby sharing yourself authentically and deepening intimacy in your relationship.