If there was a general category that describes the work I do with my clients, it would be transition management. My clients come to me when they’re changing jobs, starting businesses, getting married, having babies, moving, or even some combination of the above.
Transition is ruled by vata dosha, which in turn is a combination of the elements of air and ether (space). Transition is unsettling, and uncertain. In transition, we are aching for something that says we are HERE, solid, stable, and secure.
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I laughed when a friend of mine said last week that with all of the change and transition and life happening for her, she didn’t have time for new friends. “I don’t want to get someone’s phone number and know that I’m never going to call them,” she said. I at first was surprised by her statement, and then realized that I’ve experienced the same phenomenon. It’s not easy – we live in a culture of MORE, a culture where having more friends or more responsibility, or more activities is a status symbol. It takes strength and courage to realize that sometimes adding, even something positive like a new friend, relationship, or habit, might not serve us.
This lesson was solidified for me the next day when I was talking with a client. She is in the process of buying a house and building a team of employees for her flourishing business. In the midst of this risk and transition, she said “that’s enough. I don’t need to add risk or uncertainty anywhere else.”
“No new friends!” I exclaimed back, and we laughed. “Yes! That’s it!” she said.
Ultimately, what does “no new friends” mean? It means setting boundaries. It means that you trust that more is not necessarily better, and you grant yourself permission to say “this is enough.”
Saying no like this isn’t easy. You have to build some muscles to do it. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or as if life is too full, here are the muscles you need to flex in order to get your sanity and space back:
- Notice. Step one is being aware of your energy at the beginning of the day, during, and at the end. What is your bandwidth? Are you maxed out or do you crave more?
- Be Honest. You have to admit to yourself what you need. Saying “I could do more” is the default choice for many of us. Ask yourself if that’s true. If you feel exhausted every day, adding something probably isn’t your answer.
- Set the boundaries. A lot of us have a “yes” default, but in these times of transition, you might need to shift that yes to a “no” (or at least a “let me think about it”). Give yourself time to witness the impact that saying yes or no would have on your daily schedule and energy levels, and then make your decision accordingly.
Great news: you don’t have to say “no new friends” forever. This is something to be reserved for those times of transition, so that when you do say “yes new friend” it’s an enthusiastic, authentic, powerful YES.
Samantha Attard, PhD, is the founder of Happy Healthy Human. Sam is a performance coach and yoga instructor who helps people eat, move, and live with intention. Learn more here.