As a former people pleaser, it took a long time for me to learn how to speak up and stand up for myself. For years I was content to just go with the flow, not put up a fight, or really stand up for myself during times I probably should have.
Consequently, people in my life could manipulate me into doing things they wanted. I’d silently feel guilty and selfish if I wanted to say no, move in a different direction, and ultimately choose myself.
Through much trial and error and doses of growth, I’ve learned I have a right to be selective. And you do too. We all have the right to choose what’s best for us, even if it means certain people are disappointed sometimes. The feelings of others are not ours to own, especially regarding our well-being, our time, and our spiritual, mental, and physical health.
So, if you need a reminder, I hope this helps. Because you have a right to be selective.
You have a right to say yes or no.
Sometimes the people we care about the most will want different things to us. Our families, friends, significant others, neighbors, and employers can place demands on our company, our money, and especially our time.
And while it’s wonderful to want to help, show love and support, and be generous with what we give, it’s crucial to know that you have the right to be selective about what you say yes to and what you say no to.
If you’ve always said yes just to keep the peace, this will likely feel awkward and uncomfortable at first. But knowing your choice is based on what best serves your needs first will benefit you and your relationships in the long run.
The people you say no to will be fine. And if someone ever tries to guilt-trip or manipulate you into saying yes to something you don’t want to do, you need to re-evaluate that relationship because it may not be healthy or good for you.
You have a right to stay away from people, places, and situations that don’t deserve your time, energy, or attention.
I believe in boundaries. And establishing and maintaining healthy ones makes for a better way of life.
One of my biggest pet peeves is negative people. The presence of negativity can be a weight that’s tough to shake.
It can come in the form of toxic people who always bring bad news, chaos, and drama. It can come from unsafe spaces filled with questionable people who don’t seem to ever have anything positive or encouraging to share and say. And it can come from situations that can drain the strength and joy we have worked hard to cultivate.
Before attending a social gathering this past year, I would say, “If there’s awkward energy in the room, I won’t be there.” While I may be unable to avoid and keep away from all negativity, if I know that someone unpleasant will attend something I’ve been invited to, I’ll respectfully decline without hesitation. I prefer to protect my peace.
And you have a right to choose yourself.
In my twenties, I can recall times when different people called me selfish whenever I wanted time to myself and didn’t want to go out, do whatever they wanted to do, or volunteer my time for things I was disinterested in.
For a long time, I felt bad when I wanted (and eventually started) to choose myself. When I approached 30, I knew things needed to change. And they slowly did.
I chose myself when I re-evaluated friendships that I realized were one-sided and toxic. I chose myself when I enrolled in graduate school as I pursued a new career opportunity, even when people questioned if I’d made the right choice. I chose myself when I decided to purchase a home on my own instead of waiting for the “perfect partner” before doing so.
And I’ve learned that it’s okay to keep choosing yourself no matter what other people may feel or think about those choices.