Beliefnet
Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Walkers' FeetOften we take something on and feel obligated to finish. Or, we set a goal that feels daunting but believe it’s what we’re supposed to do. That can create a lot of stress, which makes it hard to embrace what you’ve committed to do. I’ve learned that giving yourself permission to walk away from a commitment or to not adopt the goal you think you should gives you the freedom to decide what to do without the stress of obligation hanging over you.

I was recently hired to do a project that I really wanted to do. It was for good money and offered others opportunities down the road. But when I began to discuss it with the people involved, I got a bad feeling. One of them became very demanding. It sounded like it would be much more work than I’d anticipated. I began to get stressed about it. I like to enjoy my work and it felt like I wasn’t going to enjoy it. When I found myself ranting about it and feeling like I couldn’t do it, I recognized that the stress was affecting me badly. And since I love me, I didn’t want to continue like that.

So I gave myself permission to back out of the project, despite the benefits. My mental health is worth more than the money. I didn’t back out but knowing I’d be okay with moving on was a relief. It allowed me to feel okay to email the parties involved with my concerns. If I not had permission to back out, I’d have been too nervous about losing the project to say what I did. I got a good response, and an apology for something that had really bothered me.

Knowing I didn’t have to do the project allowed me to step back and consider whether it would be okay for me to do it more objectively. We had a conference call and I decided to see what was said before backing out. During that call many of my concerns were answered. I also got a much better picture of how it would go and had no stress thinking about doing it. The bottom line was that I decided not to back out. Having the permission to do so gave me the freedom to choose based on what felt right to me instead of from a place of obligation. I saw things differently without stress making it seem worse than it was.

So I’m doing the project and feeling good about my decision. Giving yourself freedom to let go of something gives you the freedom to objectively choose it. I still feel okay with walking away if it doesn’t feel right once I begin. If you set a goal that scares you, give yourself permission to let go of it or pare it down. Then you can have a real choice about whether you want it or not because the pressure to “have to do it” is lifted. That’s the best place to make decisions from!
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