I’m not sure if it’s the breadth of experiences I’ve had in the last couple of years or the fact that I’m getting older (I surmise that it’s a combination of the two) but as time goes by, I’m really starting to understand the concept of not giving a f**k. I mean, I’ve always agreed that you can’t please everyone all the time on an intellectual level but now, I feel it deep in my bones. The very cells of my body delight when I recognize that I’m actually implementing this attitude in my daily life.
I am hands down a people pleaser. I’ve always been one to be sure that the people I interact with are taken care of in a situation. While this empathy has served me well in life and work, it’s also contributed to a lot of my unhappiness. I’ve said yes in cases where every inch of my being was screaming no, only to look back and think, “I knew that was a bad idea”. I’ve taken on more work than I was able to handle and found myself waking up at 2am tossing in a cold sweat worrying about my insurmountable to-do list and unattainable deadlines. I’ve replayed past conversations in my head, rehearsing what I would say the next time the same situation arose, wasting precious energy and time on things that I can’t change.
So what’s a people pleaser to do?
I’m not saying that I now run around being a jerk to everyone, tossing expletives in refusal whenever I’m asked to do something I’m not really interested in. However, I do think there’s something ridiculously gratifying and freeing in caring less about what other people think and more about what I need personally.
So instead of always putting others ahead of myself and caring more about people’s opinions than my own needs, I check in. A lot.
I check in with myself when I’m feeling anxious to see what’s really going on. Am I having a private conversation with myself about a situation at hand? Am I worrying about stuff that hasn’t even happened yet? Am I having second thoughts about a decision I’ve made because perhaps I clung to a choice in haste, without reviewing all the angles? Am I creating mountains out of molehills or is there something I can do to alleviate my anxiety in that space and time?
I check in with myself when I feel tension in my body. Is there something around me that’s making me feel uncomfortable? Is there something I can change in that moment to feel better and reduce the tension? Can I make a mental note of what I can do differently another time to reduce my discomfort? Our bodies are amazing gauges for the things that we might not be dealing with head-on. Those things manifest in sickness, muscle tension, aches and pains.
I check in with myself when my mind is going 100 miles an hour and I can’t seem to focus. Is there something I’m missing? Am I getting lost in details and not looking at the big picture? Am I losing sight of the good things happening and instead, focusing on the negatives?
And finally, I check in with myself when I’m feeling good. I check in when I’m feeling uplifted, inspired, enlightened and amused. And those times?
I make a mental note of the things that make me feel good – the people, places, things and situations that I know I need more of in my life. I check in and give the universe a nod and say aloud or to myself, “I’ll take more of that please!”
Because not giving a f**k is about letting go of the things that aren’t working for us, worrying less about what other people think and having honest (and sometimes awkward) conversations where we express our true feelings and intentions.
But not giving a f**k is also about embracing the things that we love and going out to do more of that stuff. It’s also about recognizing that those awesome things might not work for other people but that doesn’t make them any less important or vital to our own happiness.
Not giving a f**k is about knowing that we all have our own path to trod, on our own time, in our own space.
Not giving a f**k is about knowing that only we know what’s right for us and that we owe it to ourselves to do more of that stuff.
And the people, places and things that fall off on the way to becoming more of who we are? They weren’t meant to be. The people, places and things that support us through it all? They’re gold. Magic. Love. Worth investing energy and time into. Worth giving a f**k about.