You love being sociable, you love interacting with people.
But there comes a point when enough is enough, and you need to be on your own.
Perhaps the people around you, your family and friends, don’t realise you actually need a lot of time to recharge … they make demands on you, they turn up at odd hours to ‘keep you company’ …
You don’t want to be rude so you keep quiet and put up with the intrusion, all the while seething with resentment and feeling drained.
Why can’t they see you need to withdraw, to rest, to be alone ….?
It’s frustrating, I know, to be in this situation and so easy to lose your rag.
But the real question is how can you communicate your needs without turning into a b***h from hell?!
(‘scuse my language)
Did I ever mention I love growing things ?!
I used to have an allotment near our old house, a very large expanse of fertile ground that I planted up with all my favourite things to eat.
I remember taking great care to find out all I could about how these plants grew best, how much space they needed, what to feed them with and how to support their growth. I wanted to make sure I planted and took care of them just right.
But with experience I discovered the really useful stuff tends not to be written down. You find out through word of mouth.
I was lucky to have help from a very knowledgeable guy in my allotment ‘village’. He would explain to me how best to plant, support and feed – and how much to water.
I’d always wondered how he got such great yields from his crops. Now I know ….
He knew from experience how each plant liked to be treated and so he treated it that way.
Seems like common sense if you think about it, cucumbers need very different conditions than potatoes, so you’d know straight away to deal with them differently to get the best yield.
You wouldn’t dream of trying to feed and support each type of plant in the same way, would you?
And so it is with you:
You have the right to take the best care of YOU.
And only you know what that is.
What would your plant tag say?
What do you need in order to thrive in the conditions you have?
What’s the best balance for you of ‘social’ time and ‘alone’ time?
And given that YOU have the insider knowledge on how best to support you, how can you communicate that to others so they know how best to help you thrive?
1. Ask yourself how YOU feel about what you’d really like to do
Is it really ok to want to be alone to recharge … or is your mind chatter giving you conflicting messages?
Acknowledge what you actually feel.
Then notice all the internal responses and the mind chatter that goes with that, so you’ve got a complete picture of your current dilemma.
Your mind will try to play tricks with you (and will want to keep you safe, of course) yet understanding what’s really going on in your head, will help you to move forward.
For example, you might be thinking
“What will they say? If I tell them I really don’t want their company, they’ll think I’m ….”
Or you might be thinking about the possible consequences of telling them.
“If I do that – then they’ll ….”
“If I start to speak to them about how I really feel I’m going to completely lose it, and start shouting”
Be gentle with yourself about what comes up for you here.
2. Then ask, what’s the WORST that could happen?
If you’re paralysed with fear about what COULD happen, you can deal with that by thinking through all the ‘what ifs’ and playing it through in your mind.
For example, if you’re worried about losing your rag and shouting, then what’s the worst that could happen?
So you might be thinking,
“Ok if I lose my rag and shout, then they might start shouting, and it will all turn into a horrible drama. And I might cry as well, and that would look really stupid. But it will all calm down eventually, and once I’ve got it out of my system, I will feel better.
(And it’s ok to cry)”
Now you’ve mentally prepared for the worst, you might find you feel a bit lighter.
3. Think through what you’d really like to say to them
For your own peace of mind, it’s useful to think through what you’d ideally like to say, to get your message across, and then write that down somewhere private.
For example, you might want to say,
“Thanks very much, but I don’t need your company, I’d really prefer to be on my own right now.”
“When I say I’m ok, please believe me. I really will be ok.”
“I understand you’re just trying to be helpful, but I actually need some time on my own.”
4. Practise speaking that out loud (just to yourself for now)
You might feel a bit silly talking to yourself, but it’s good practice for the real thing.
So, go somewhere you won’t feel too self conscious – maybe at home on your own or when you’re out for a walk in an isolated place.
Actually say the words out loud, so your body gets the feeling of expressing your real needs. You can tweak your message as you speak it. No-one else will hear, this is just for you.
Once you’re able to speak it confidently out loud to yourself, you might actually feel different about being able to say it for real.
You won’t know til you try it!
So, go on, I challenge you to be more ‘real’ with how you’d like to be treated.
You have the right to take the best care of YOU.
And to communicate that to others where necessary…
Only you have the insider knowledge it takes to give you the best conditions in which to thrive.
I wish you plentiful growth and optimum health so that, like the plants I used to grow on my allotment, you can bring pleasure and fulfilment to yourself and those around you, just by being your natural, optimal, self!
Over To You:
I’d love to hear how this lands for you. Do you know what’s written on your plant tag? And what are your optimal ‘growing conditions’ ?
Please leave me a comment in the box below.
This is a lovely post and I really like the ‘plant tag’ analogy. Of course we’re all completely individual and unique in our needs and desires but sadly most of us learn to shut those down in childhood in order to be more ‘acceptable’ to those around us, to the point that we often deny them to ourselves.
Saying what I need out loud has been a challenge for me in the past, but life becomes so much simpler when we’re able to do it. Now my friends and family don’t have to guess what I need, and I don’t end up feeling resentful because they haven’t guessed correctly (or haven’t guessed at all).
So here goes, here’s my plant tag:
I need frequent bouts of alone-time out in Nature – my bike is one of my best friends. I need to be fed and watered at regular intervals (metaphorically as well as physically) otherwise I get crabby. I also need to be coaxed out of the office sometimes and told to relax :-).
Thanks for the invitation to be bold and say it!
Aha yes Linda! Plenty of time in Nature and reminders to relax (I think I’ll borrow that for my tag too!) 🙂
Thanks for sharing this Ann.
My own plant tag would definitely say “Can’t handle cluttered environments, becomes cranky and prone to shouting. Needs long stretches of quiet time but also needs to connect with others for some part of the day. Loves talking about what is possible; doesn’t do small talk.”
Thanks for sharing your tag Donna ! I love the way this ‘tag’ analogy allows us to state very clearly and objectively, what we want and need. “Doesn’t do small talk” is one of my own dear ones too, rather instead “loves hearing about what’s important to you, and having you ask about (and listen to) what’s important to her, and sharing insights into how to make life more joyful, productive and empowering”
Now to put that on a bracelet so everyone can share, as Lure suggested! 🙂
Your version was so much nicer. 🙂 Small talk is the place were I get resentful quickly – and it leaves me feeling drained.
Maybe I could update it to “Loves to talk about possibilities + big dreams, and wants to share her own. Wants to know who you are and what you want want to do with this life. Doesn’t shy away from the scary, uncomfortable stuff.” This is is fun. 🙂