When I was a little girl, I had to do what I was told. No questions or talk-back allowed. At home and as the youngest in my immediate family, I had to “shut up.” At school, I obliged to every rule. As a child, it was made clear that my voice did not matter. I did not matter.
I imagined that when I grew up I’d develop enough grown up powers to free myself of stifling regulations. I would matter so much that my bosses, family members, and instructors across different disciplines would acknowledge my power and encourage me to use my voice. That was not the case though. Why? Because I had to do what they wanted, or else I’d be bad. I didn’t want to be bad. I had to do what I was told.I had to.
Like most people who habitually oblige (Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies elaborates on what it means to be an obliger), there comes a time when one gets absolutely fed up with obliging. I’ve been there before, and I’m there again.
I AM PISSED. Pissed about feeling silenced. Pissed about complying to everyone else’s needs. My needs are important too. My needs matter. I MATTER.
So, I recently picked up a magical phrase to free myself: I DON’T HAVE TO.
Have you ever used this phrase? If not, try it. I started with one thing, but then I came up with a full-blown list:
- I don’t have to hit reply.
- I don’t have to rsvp by their deadline.
- I don’t have to clean that now.
- I don’t have to believe what she says about my parenting.
- I don’t have to start a 529 Plan.
- I don’t have to donate to another cause.
- I don’t have to forgo a pitcher of sangria.
- I don’t have to explain myself for saying NO.
- I don’t have to keep quiet about his fakeness.
- I don’t have to play small to preserve her ego.
- I don’t have to put up with BS “leadership.”
- I don’t have to give him grace over and over again.
- I don’t have to forgive anyone.
Besides paying last month’s speeding ticket and nurturing my babies, I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to do. Therefore, this month I’m changing up my format. Instead of offering a question, I’m giving you a fill-in-the-blank.
Take a deep breath and complete the following statement:
I DON’T HAVE TO [blank].
Fill in the blank with whatever you like. After you think about your answers, write them down OR say the phrase out loud. Like, really loud. GO FOR IT. Once you’re done,observe what comes up for you. Do you feel relieved? Or stressed out? Or angry? Or all of that? Whatever comes up, remember that resisting those inner and outer expectations once in a while is totally OKAY. Plus, letting others down in order to do things your way might just prevent you from acting so cray.
Send me a note if this message helped or if you need more support with giving yourself permission to “not have to.”