I had a rough few days over the weekend, running around a lot in the rain, then rushing home to finish up a deadline. My allergies were kicking in so my nose and head were a little stuffed. It was an unusual rainy pattern here in NYC that just hung out over us and made me more tired. I woke up on Saturday with a headache from the dampness and chill of 40 degrees. As I watched the rain coming down hard, the last thing I wanted to do was go out.

I’d made plans for that evening to get together with someone who lives out of the city. The day before he said the rain wouldn’t keep him from coming in. I agreed that we’d get together. “Rain won’t stop us!” we affirmed. But in the morning I didn’t feel that way. I’d been a bit ragged lately and the thought of going downtown in the cold rain made me unhappy. But I like to be happy! And what would make me happy is to stay home.

DoorMats keep plans no matter how much it hurts them!

While I don’t like cancelling on someone, sometimes it’s gotta be done. Making the decision to cancel lifted my spirits. Hooray! I can stay home! Be warm and dry. Years ago if I did that—which I probably wouldn’t have unless I was very ill—I’d have been plagued with guilt, which would have ruined my joy in staying home. Good girls believe they shouldn’t back out of a commitment. Period! While I do try to honor plans, I now also honor my needs. That’s one of the most important lessons I learned on the way out of DoorMatville.

Self first! Some people see that attitude as selfish but it’s NOT. It’s your right!

Leaving DoorMatville helped me to stop seeing most things as obligations. While I don’t cancel plans lightly or do it if I know the other person is counting on me to go or will be very disappointed, I’ve accepted that it is okay when you really need to. On Saturday I did. I haven’t seen my friend in a while and was looking forward to our going out. So I did want to go. But, the weather and how I felt was a big enough deterrent to cancel.

Occasionally canceling plans that you will make you unhappy to keep is okay.

If you find yourself wanting to cancel on someone often, ask yourself why you bother to make plans with him or her. It’s better to avoid canceling by not making plans in the first place. If you do make them, don’t cancel lightly. I was really feeling under the weather—literally—and believed it would hurt me to go running around in the rain tonight. That was a good reason to me. My health is a major priority now that I love myself. And, I try not to make plans in the first place with someone I’d want to cancel on easily.

But taking care of self is the most important priority to make.

This doesn’t mean making yourself happy at someone else’s expense. I gave my friend plenty of notice by calling in the morning and you know what? It turned out he was wishing he could cancel too, since the gale force winds and rain made him not want to schlep into the city. So it actually worked out fine. But if I was accompanying someone to an event they wouldn’t go to alone, I wouldn’t leave them unable to go. The same would also apply to having expensive tickets to a show. But, when my health is the issue and the plans weren’t major, it seemed more right to cancel.

I had a lovely evening at home Saturday! Knowing that I did that for myself added another level of satisfaction. I honor plans I make 99% of the time. You should too. I hate people who cancel often since it inconveniences me if I held time for nothing or have to find someone else to go somewhere with me at the last minute. But if someone does it rarely, I understand more. But when necessary, always remember that your well being should come first.

If your reason for bailing is legit, apologize and keep guilt out of it. Enjoy being able to do what’s best for you.

I remember the first time I actually allowed myself to cancel plans after a lifetime of living in a state of obligation. I was exhausted from an intense week and not sleeping well. I was meeting a friend for dinner. In the past, nothing would have mattered except that I had to show up. HAD TO! DoorMats have to have to! As I dreaded the thought of going out, I remembered I didn’t live in DoorMatville anymore. So I called and asked for a rain check, explaining I didn’t feel well. I wasn’t hit by lightening or cursed forever. Nor did I lose the friend. Instead, she said she understood and we rescheduled. I got to go to bed early so I felt better the next day.

I still remember getting into bed with my book and a cup of tea and smiling ear to ear with the joy of knowing it was okay to can plans I wasn’t up for.

The glow I had that first time was profound. No more obligations! Yes, I do want to honor plans I make when I can. But not at the expense of my health. Taking control of your time is a lovely gift for you. Don’t cancel lightly but cancel if it’s for your highest good. It’s okay! ?

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