It took about 30 seconds for me to think of a whole range of people I could potentially disappoint today. My kids, my husband, my business partner, my friends, my Mum, my clients, the dog!
This is really just another version of a question you’ll see posed often by coaches, self-help experts, well-meaning friends,
“What can you say no to today?”
If I really embrace the question, I can think of lots of things I could say no to. I could not pick my son up at midnight from a party, because it would mean I start the weekend less tired.
I could decline a client’s request for an evening appointment because I know I’m a better coach and therapist in the daytime and I really enjoy the idea of choice around how I spend my evenings.
I could not phone my Mum, not create that video for the new system at work, not clean the bathroom, not check-in on a friend.
It’s often not the saying no that’s so tricky. It’s the thoughts and feelings that follow.
“I could say no but……”
The ‘but’ involves someone else being disappointed. If I’m honest I find it difficult, if not impossible to knowingly disappoint people, most especially family members, or the dog! But sometimes it’s not even a real person. I could decide not to clean the house this weekend, for example. Now I know without a shadow of a doubt that neither my husband or my kids give two hoots whether I clean the house, and certainly not to any specified standard. Granted, this might be peculiar to my family, yours may have different feelings and expectations around tidiness and hygiene. But if it’s not them I’m disappointing, who is it? Is it me? I don’t think so. If I’m truly honest I’m sanguine about the state of the house. So maybe its that person who might come round, that person who might have an opinion, that person who in fact isn’t even real but a fictitious being I have chosen to appoint as judge and jury upon how I spend my time.
I’m not suggesting it’s a good thing to let people down or that it’s okay to avoid all our responsibilities. In fact on this, the day after we lost our Queen Elizabeth, I’m willing to acknowledge there is honour and indeed pleasure to be derived from a sense of duty. What if though, we were able to get comfortable with the fact that we are allowed sometimes to make decisions which benefit us, even if they disappoint someone, rather than ‘only if they disappoint no-one?’
You’ll see that I haven’t nailed this issue, but I’m curious enough to give it some more thought.
Care to join me?
Can you allow yourself to disappoint someone today?
I don’t know. Shall we try?
I’d love to know how you get on.