I am fairly confident I am not the only one who feels a bit of excitement/relief when a plan with a friend gets canceled.
This is not because I don’t want to spend time with said friend, but it means I don’t have to socialize, can stay home and snuggle my dog, and don’t have to feel guilty that the plans didn’t work out.
However, when the time comes and I am the one who wants to cancel plans because I simply don’t feel like socializing, I automatically feel a sense of guilt take over and my thoughts begin to race. Will they be mad? Do I seem unreliable? What if I miss out? What if they choose to not make plans anymore with me?
These automatic negative thoughts can have huge impacts on our emotions and behaviors. And if we begin to believe these thoughts, they can even create some distance between relationships. If I FEEL like my friend is mad because I canceled plans to stay home and relax, I will probably look for every bit of evidence that this thought is true, making me feel upset, isolated and guilty, and less likely to engage with that friend at all.
When we have excuses to cancel plans (illness, work, family obligations) there is often less guilt attached to this for some reason. However, canceling plans due to the fact that you are tired, emotionally drained, or just feel like being alone should also be a legitimate reason. Our mental health is just important as our physical health, and if we aren’t listening to the cues in our body telling us we need a break and some alone time, we can often push ourselves too far, creating even more internal challenges. Sometimes people feel obligated to make up an alternative excuse because saying they are tired or are having a hard time regulating their emotions may feel as if it is not a good enough reason.
Well, I’ll tell you that it most definitely is.
To sustain healthy relationships and a positive sense of well-being, we first need to take control of our emotions. If they are sending us signals that we aren’t listening to or acting upon (e.g., I need to relax/I need to be alone and cry), they will continue to get louder and louder until they have gained full control.
Some days, the result of listening to your emotions may be canceling a plan you had made with your bestie weeks ago. Although it is valid for them to feel disappointment, in the long run it’ll be what’s most helpful for your relationship. Taking that time to clear your head, relax, cry, clean your house, have a bath or read a book will improve the relationship you have with yourself and your emotions which will then positively impact your friendships.
With all of that being said, canceling every plan you make because of your mental health could mean there might be something more going on than just your body asking for some self-care time. It’s important to find a balance in life between socializing with friends/family and spending time relaxing at home/engaging in self-care. If you are noticing you are starting to isolate yourself from your friends and things you use to enjoy, then it could be beneficial to access some professional support.
Sometimes self-care does mean spending time with friends, which can be super helpful! However, next time you find yourself with the internal struggle of pushing yourself on a difficult day to go socialize with friends OR stay at home, snuggle your dog and have a bath… listen to your emotions and respond to them, without guilt, with whatever it is you think will help most.
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