You don’t have to say thank you if you aren’t grateful

The other day, I was in the grocery store picking up some cold medicine. As I was holding a bottle and considering my options, a woman came up next to me and said,

“Just make sure you don’t take that for longer than 7 days. ‘Cause I did and it was bad — and then I read the directions!”

I knew this woman was trying to be helpful. Everything in me told me to smile at her and say an enthusiastic, “Oh! Wow, thank you! Good to know!”

But that’s not how I felt. How I felt was:

  1. I don’t know who you are
  2. I don’t feel comfortable with you looking at what I’m purchasing
  3. I didn’t ask for your pharmaceutical consultation
  4. I always read the directions before taking a medication, so I wont make your same mistake anyway

Now, I live in a small town where people feel that it’s appropriate to look at what others are buying and to freely comment. I also live in a town where people have strong opinions when it comes to health and remedies.

So I’m used to the polite nod and “Oh, really? I didn’t know that” type of response. I’ve learned how to pacify people.

But I did not feel comfortable doing that the other day. I felt that if I pretended to be grateful, this woman would think that what she did was socially appropriate, and desirable even. And I decided not to lie to her like that.

I don’t know if she thought I was rude or ungrateful, or if maybe she didn’t even notice I didn’t thank her. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I did what felt right to me.

I hope this story serves you, as a reminder that you are free to make your own choices and do what feels right to you, regardless of how you have been taught to live. Be honest with people. Stand up for your feelings and perspectives. Don’t feign gratitude just to validate someone else’s choices. (tweet that)

For further reading on this topic, I recommend Sam Harris’ super quick read, “Lying“. He makes a strong case for why we owe it to others to always be honest, even when it might be a little uncomfortable.

In what area of your life can you stop pacifying others and start being true to your own feelings?

 

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

The least you could do — A minimalist guide to relationships

I had a difficult week awhile back. My boyfriend and I had just set out on our first big trip together (literally, we just got there) when he became sick with the flu. We were in a completely new place, and my understanding of the local language was still quite rough. I was tired and stressed and now had to embark to the store all by myself to get food and medicine — and quickly.

I cleaned, I prepared meals, I sorted out travel details. On top of doing everything for the both of us, I spent most of my downtime by myself, because my boyfriend was mostly just sleeping. Usually when you do a lot for someone, you also get the joy of spending time bonding with them, which refuels you a little. But this week, I was giving him 100% and getting hardly anything in return. It was hard.

In my struggle, I thought about what type of girlfriend I wanted to be. What characteristics did I want to bring to this relationship?

Here’s what I came up with. I listed them so they spell “least”, so they are easy to remember. I told myself, In times of trial, maintaining these characteristics is the least I can do.

  • Loving
  • Encouraging
  • Affectionate
  • Selfless
  • Thoughtful / Tolerant

Now these are intentionally pretty vague, so you can form them to what you feel is important. I’ll share mine with you to give you some ideas.

Loving

I might feel tired or angry, but I will respond with a loving tone instead of a harsh one. If I feel that I’m carrying more weight in the relationship, I will choose to act towards him with love regardless of the “score”.

Encouraging

Even when I’m barely holding my own life together, that doesn’t mean I wont still encourage my partner. Everyone needs encouragement, and what I’m dealing with doesn’t take away whatever he’s dealing with.

Affectionate

If you’ve read The 5 Love Languages (I can’t recommend this book highly enough!) then you know that Affection is one of the 5. For me, it’s the most important, and it’s also one that’s pretty easy to return. When someone gives you a hug, it doesn’t take much to hug them back. But what’s more challenging is initiating affection, especially if it’s an aspect of your relationship that has gone lost or that never was a big part to begin with. To me, affection goes along with encouragement, in that a simple hug or hand on the arm can instill a little bit of life back into someone who’s having a down day. And while I think affection can require more vulnerability than some of the other qualities, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Selfless

This one was especially important to me while I played nurse the week my partner was ill. I was running around catering to his needs (any parent can relate to this feeling I’m sure!) and making his comfort a priority over my own. In moments when I felt it was getting to be too much, I reminded myself that being selfless is a quality I would like to bring to this relationship, and therefore what I was doing was right.

Thoughtful / Tolerant

I started using thoughtful for “T” but later realized tolerant is just as important. Being thoughtful to me means being aware of what my partner might need, and offering it. Examples when he was sick included another glass of water or a foot massage. Day to day examples can include picking up his favorite food at the grocery store or setting out a bottle of sunscreen next to his backpack before a day out with his friends.

Tolerance in my view is patience combined with being loving. It’s not losing my temper on insignificant things and it’s understanding that he might do some things differently than I do — and accepting that that’s perfectly okay. I like to be tolerant of both the situation and, more generally, of who my partner is as a person.

Easier said than done

I want to be clear that while this simple list is the “least” I can do, it’s also a lot to ask! It’s hard to be loving when you’re angry, or to put someone else’s needs ahead of your own. But I use this list as a list of goals or mantras, more than a list of strict requirements. It’s a list that I customized to fit who I want to be in a relationship — who I try to be, whether or not I always succeed.

I invite you to customize the list to make it fit who YOU want to be in a relationship. It wont be intimidating if you customize it to feel right for you.

These characteristics can also apply to non-romantic relationships. You can customize the list again to fit how you’d like to act with your parent or your friend. Or for that matter, yourself!

<3

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

Do I have to pay hundreds for this bachelorette party? | Ask LFB

Dear Brianna,

A good friend of mine is getting married next year and her bachelorette party is coming up. The girls who are planning it seem disorganized but want us all to commit to chipping in a certain amount for it. It seems like a lot of money for one weekend and I’m not sure what it could possibly be going to. I do know they want to do some extravagant things like fancy dinners and spa treatments, which I would personally rather not spend money on. It’s important to me to show up and support my friend, but I feel conflicted about committing when they aren’t sure what the final budget will be yet. What if I commit and then have to pay hundreds of dollars for something I don’t want?

—Sincerely, Crystal

Hi Crystal! Welcome to the LFB fam!

First of all, let me tell you that you are not alone. I’ve talked in depth with friends who know the wedding struggle all too well. Between bachelorette parties, bridal showers, the wedding and reception, plus gifts for each occasion and airfare and hotels and dinners… it adds up real quick.

It’s all done in the name of supporting your friend and the love that she has found. Which, really, what better things could we celebrate in life?

But is spending tons of money the best way — or the only way — to support them? What if you end up going into debt to do it? Or working overtime and burning yourself out trying to afford it all? What will you sacrifice that you’d rather put that money towards?

Bachelorette parties can be tons of fun, but it sounds like some of the activities they have planned wont be much fun to you. You have to decide: if you do spend money on those things, will you likely end up having fun afterall, or will you likely resent it and just be stressed the whole time?

Two things are important to remember:

  • You always have a choice (tweet that)
  • You can set and keep your standards without limiting others (tweet that)

So here’s what I would do:

First, tell the girls in charge that you will commit to attending, but that you might not participate in all events. That might mean that everyone else goes off to the spa while you go for a walk around the city by yourself, or do another cheaper activity. Send this in a group email if you can, so that the other girls see that one person was brave enough to voice concern, and I wouldn’t be surprised if others speak up, too. If enough girls speak up, they’ll make alternative plans. If only a few, at least you wont be alone while the majority go out.

Next, tell them that you are definitely prepared to chip in, and will do so once the final budget has been established. Wording it this way, you’re setting your standard without dissing their current organization skills.

Third, ask them to have the final budget broken down by event (ex. ~$100 dinner here, ~$75 tickets here, etc) so you can see where the money will go and make your own final budget from there. Let them know that you will then pay an amount based on the activities you will participate in, so they can be assured all your expenses will be covered.

I’m sure you’ll be able to attend the party and still stay within your financial comfort. And you’ll have fun even if you skip a few events! These occasions are more about bonding together as women than they are about the activities.

And, for any readers in a similar situation who decide to skip the whole weekend altogether, remember that that is a perfectly acceptable choice and that there are many other ways to show the bride your support. You never have to spend money you can’t afford to show your love for someone. (tweet that)

Have fun and congrats to the happy couple,

Brianna

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

It’s perfectly fine to break up with friends you’re just not that into

“Breaking up is hard to do”. But so is hanging out with someone who makes you feel awkward af. (tweet that)

Let me rephrase that. It’s not that they make you feel awkward; it’s that you feel awkward around them. They aren’t doing anything wrong, it’s just… them. Or you. Or you with them. But somehow the conversation always dies down, it gets awkward, and you dread it.

On the flip side, you have that other friend, with whom there are never ever awkward silences — but that’s because she never stops talking about herself and her problems. Not only is it an unbalanced relationship you two have, but it’s a depressing one. You walk away feeling drained, feeling like you would have rather not gone out at all.

I’ve had interactions with both of these people. And I’ve separated myself from both of them. The first one was a very kind friend, but something about our vibe together just felt awkward, so when we naturally drifted, I let it happen and made absolutely no effort to maintain the friendship.

The other, I never got that close with in the first place (you can only get so close when a relationship is one-sided.) And so I just stopped attending events where this person would be there.

Instead, I have chosen to nurture friendships with people I actually like. (tweet that)

Imagine that! Positive interactions where I come away from it feeling great, and feeling like there’s never enough time to talk about all the great things we want to share with each other. Comparing the social circle I have now to the one I had a few years ago is like night and day. Back then I felt like an outsider; I felt depressed and like I had no really fulfilling interactions in my life. Now I have an abundance of them.

“If you keep what you don’t want, you’ll never have enough room for what you do want.” (tweet that)

Feeling too guilty to end things with somebody?

Trust me, they’ll get over it. Chances are, it hasn’t been that fulfilling for them either. I doubt they’ll be completely blindsided. Plus, just don’t be a jerk about it and you can walk away guilt-free. It’s really okay. And if you still feel guilty, remember that you are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness but your own.

What decisions can you make about who you spend your time with, that will bring you happiness today?

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.