Are you the driver or a passenger in your life? Create more meaningful experiences and gain a renewed perspective by doing more of what you love.
As you grow older, do you ever feel as if some of those years have not belonged to you? When you think about how you want to live life, it’s often through a shiny lens.
Of course, that hasn’t always been your lived experience. Like everybody else in the world, you’ve likely acquiesced on countless occasions to do something you didn’t really feel like doing.
Or you had to be a person you didn’t really feel like being, and meet some kind of expectation or value system that didn’t really resonate with you in the first place. In other words, you haven’t always said yes to yourself.
How does this always happen?
There are countless opportunities in your daily life to assert the person you are. However, it can be anxiety-producing to do it when asserting that person may feel uncomfortable, complicated, socially unacceptable, or come with a little pain.
Avoidance is a relief valve for anxiety, and so we often stay busy doing all the daily things we do. We push the self-asserting off for another day, telling ourselves that we are doing what we ‘should’ be doing, so everything is fine.
What would it look like if you suddenly stopped doing this? Here are some examples of how it can look when you start saying yes to yourself.
1. Make a career change.
Initiate a move to a new career, even when the one you currently have is OK. Your boss will find someone to replace you, and your coworkers will not hate you forever for leaving them (or if they do, good riddance to them anyway).
2. Remove relationships that aren’t working.
Get out of a relationship that you know in your gut isn’t working, even if it is providing a plus one at weddings and a warm bed at night. End a relationship or set boundaries with a toxic friend or family member, even when it might hurt their feelings.
3. Be with who you want.
Choose to be single, and don’t get married if that is what you prefer. Choose to not have kids if that doesn’t feel right for you. Be in an unconventional relationship that’s true to your values or sexual and personal preferences, even if other people don’t accept it as valid.
4. Smile when you want.
You don’t need to smile when your insides don’t feel like smiling, even if people are looking at you and asking: “what’s wrong?”.
5. Take some alone time.
Travel alone when you really don’t feel like traveling with somebody else, even when it means you’ll have to have dinner alone in a restaurant and people will know that you are traveling solo.
6. Skip out on gatherings.
Choose to not join in on all the holiday events or social gatherings if big groups of people make you anxious. Give yourself permission not to go even when you feel as if you ‘should’ go out of obligation.
7. Show a different side of you.
Venture into a creative endeavor that is more vulnerable than you are used to being. Show a little bit more of yourself than you are used to showing, even though that can be very scary.
8. Find more down time.
Choose to do less when you are pushed to do more. Rest and recharge unapologetically, even if you are judged and labeled unkind things. Reject traditional markers of “success”, even when everybody else embraces them.
9. Be more vulnerable.
Be open about your struggles, insecurities, and problems, because you deserve support and love as you get through them. Everyone has their own version of problems they are dealing with.
When we float along with the status quo, we end up making fewer intentional choices for ourselves. However, when we say yes to the tiny callings inside us, it turns ‘doing’ into ‘living’.
Stand up in favor of saying yes to yourself and your own choices. Say yes to your own unique quirks and values.
And start experiencing richer, more fulfilling experiences in this wild and scary life.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: NEIL BATES
Dana Belletiere, LICSW, MSEd, is a licensed therapist serving clients in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, in person and virtually. In her practice, she focuses on helping clients to shape their own narratives, accept and love all parts of themselves, and cultivate an authentic and meaningful life. When she’s not with clients, you can find her writing or reading in a local coffee shop. Learn more about Dana’s work and visit her at www.DanaLICSW.com.