What do you when you don’t want to follow up on a plan or arrangement because you no longer feel like it? Do you feel like a flaky and non committal person?
How do you feel about pre-existing commitments when you find you’re in a low energy, low mood? When you don’t feel up to, or for, the things you thought you would? When you feel contracted, collapsed, strung out, miserable or maybe triggered or upset by someone or something and so feel disinterest, resistance or resentment towards the things you were going to do? Plans you made when you were feeling more positive and resilient that now feel like chores because you’re simply not in the mood.
What do you do when you don’t want to show up, but want to shut down, hide away? Do you tell yourself you have to go, or that you don’t? Do you make excuses to others or explain what you’re feeling? How do you know what’s the right call to make when in that uncomfortable meeting place of a ‘should’ and a ‘don’t feel like it’.
Do you run through any of the following scripts?:
- I need to get on with it, it might cheer me up and distraction will be good
- I can’t let people down, I said I would and it won’t look good if I cancel
- It’s better to go when I’m in a better place, so I’ll reschedule, they will understand
- I can’t go like this I’ll just feel miserable, be poor company and bring everyone down
- If I don’t do it, I’ll let myself down, I need to make myself go
Do you have a ‘non-committal’ part that builds in wriggle room; sometimes preferring to make open ended plans; play it by ear nearer the time/see how we both feel type arrangements? Do you function better with space and room for spontaneity? You may need time to be alone, so sometimes draw away as you find social commitments overwhelming.
Do you have a ‘let’s get it in the dairy’ part where you function better with plans to look forward to, fill your time with company and stimulation and not want empty spaces with nothing to do. You may have a tendency to over-commit, to say yes when you don’t necessarily want to and then draw back when over-extended, not feel able to face it.
We all have different strategies around making commitments that serve the needs of different parts of us and which may lead to us needing to ‘come back home’, when we become aware we just don’t want to at the current time.
When we make arrangements we are making a form of contract and its nature – and our ‘commitment’ nature – needs to be understood. There’s always the potential of a sense of guilt, laziness and selfishness if we disappoint others or our self when we bail on plans or take the easy route. Of course, we all understand that changing plans affects others and our relationship with ourself. We can all feel hurt, de-valued, disrespected, not wanted and let down by others when they cancel or change their mind: with ‘good reason’ or not, when the time arrives.
Bailing, blowing people out and cancelling plans can be self-care. And these decisions can also be a hiding and avoiding strategy. The cop out. So how can we know if the I feel tired/unwell/sad and grumpy anti-social, is just a way to talk ourselves out of something and away from someone, which could actually be good for us if we just make that little push to show up/see it through, overriding the part that doesn’t feel like it?
I’ve come to understand the role of my ‘don’t feel like it’ part better over time. When I feel low or sad, it’s making me chose things that are emotionally safe. It’s giving me permission to both feel and look after my feelings. So I will chose to stay home when with a low mood, get warm and comfy and rest. It may be a cop out part, but it’s not avoidant, it’s self-care because it knows what I need.
However, when I decide to not do the thing but to blow the thing and stay home because I feel low, another part of me comes up, which tells me off. It tells me I’ll be fine once I get there and who knows, might even feel better if I make the effort, that I’m rubbish for copping out of things and staying home. It tells me that I’m flaky and non-committal. It tells me there must be something wrong with me for not sustaining things, following plans through. It tells me I always do this and I’m not changing, or making progress in my development, relationships or lifestyle when I get sad and stay home.
So the part that gives me permission to stay at home comes into conflict with the part that beats me up for staying home. This is a common experience of the internal polarity should/shouldn’t; want to/don’t want to, can/can’t.
I then feel anxious and unsure about whether my decision to stay home is the right one. I question if I am just making an excuse to back out of something. Instead of relaxing, I spend my time thinking I should have gone and feeling bad about my decision. I’m now not only with the original low feeling, I’m feeling bad about having that feeling and bad about how I’ve decided to manage it and then bad about the kind of non-committal person I am
Blimey, what a hole to crawl into.
Where there are two parts of us saying opposing things, there is always a third part of us confused, anxious, torn inbetween and not knowing what to do. This is the part of us that gets distressed and want the right answer, to create a certain solution: an either/or.
This is where we need to develop our capacity to be both/and. To ask the distressed and anxious part to step back and listen to the wisdom being presented by both; I should stay versus I should go. So, in this case, the ok to stay at home part and the not ok to stay at home part.
The rubbishing part that’s making me feel bad about staying at home is actually only worried that I’ll never get out, have any fun or shift my mind set if I keep staying at home. It wants to encourage me to believe that staying at home is not the only way to feel better if I’m feeling low. It’s worried about me feeling sad and lonely by myself and not making connections in the world. Like most critical parts, it’s doing it’s job by trying to motivate me to do something different, by making me feel bad for not doing it.
To settle internal conflict, we need to find compassion for our self where the system is being activated in different directions. This creates a calm space to see what is going on and slow everything down. We need to get curious and understand the internal dynamic of our system to be more accepting towards ourselves at these tricky junctures and to feel into what needs different parts are addressing. Some principles include:
- being kind to ourself for feeling low/not feeling like it
- recognising that our choice to stay home is compassionate self-care because it gives comfort
- recognising that feeling bad about this choice is part of the reaction to feeling low (feeling bad about the self).
- understanding that the internal critic is one part of our system, pushing for things to be different
- reassuring the critical part that staying at home is a proactive choice and remind it that there are plenty of times when we do show up
By allowing ourselves to recognise low feelings and look after ourselves by doing what feels most comforting and safe, they will pass. We can then re-connect to our resources. By using this approach of self-compassion, we can recognise that a ‘cop out’ strategy may be what is needed in this instance and the anxious part can accept that and relax into the wisdom of feeling into different choices.
Ask your body if it’s a good day to show up. If you feel resistance when you think you know what you should do, try listening to what the body says; where your nervous system needs soothing, where it’s holding reactivity and tension in relation to which aspects of your choices. Explore what the roles of the different parts and thoughts are, then make your decision.