I was talking with my beautiful friend this morning about a work-related decision she made a few weeks ago.
She was feeling torn.
Even though the decision she made was 100% right for her and she was deep down really pleased with it, she was concerned what an ex-colleague would think. She went on to say that she didn’t want to catch up with this ex-colleague at their scheduled lunch date because she didn’t want to have to explain or defend her decision.
“What is it that makes you feel as though you have to explain or defend your decision?” I asked.
“Well, because he might not be happy with me…”. She explained how “originally – when we met up six weeks ago – I told him I was going to do A, but then I changed my mind and decided to do B. In the end I realised that decision B would give me a lot more security and I now know that security is what I need to feel comfortable in life. But now that I’ve “swapped sides” I worry he might be annoyed with me”.
“Will your decision impact him in any way?” I probed.
“No.. it won’t. He might be disappointed – maybe even a bit shocked that I chose to stay” she clarified.
Does this sound familiar to you? Do you sometimes make a decision to keep another person (even one who is not very close or important to you) happy? Do you sometimes make a decision that is right for you but then immediately feel guilty about it because someone else might not like it?
I suggested to my friend that maybe going into the catch-up with the energy of apology would create the need for an apology – that apology being quite unnecessary.
What would happen if she simply owned her decision? If she didn’t seek to justify (or defend) that decision? If she didn’t try to make her ex-colleague understand why she had changed her mind?
Because here’s the thing: what is right for her may not be right for him. Indeed, what is right for her may not even be comprehensible to him.
The good news is…. it doesn’t have to be!!!
It is her decision, about her life, and the only person who will be affected by it is her.
I often work with people who are apologetic for taking care of themselves and who end up occupying this same conflicted state. What I’m saying is that it’s totally okay if someone doesn’t like your decisions!!! But it’s also their prerogative to vocalise their discontent if they so wish (as irksome as this might be!).
It is important to remind yourself that the decision you made was decided by you, for you, and in accordance with your own principles and standards … so really … who cares what other people think??
“Well…I do care.” said my friend.
And that is where the problem lies.
When we make decisions based on keeping other people happy we are moving into dangerous territory. Sure, one decision here or there won’t hurt, but before you know it you have conditioned yourself to be people-pleasing and kowtowing to others all the time.
You inadvertently teach people around you that if they create a big enough fuss they will be able to influence you to do exactly what they want – even if it’s not the right thing for you.
I then asked her “But hang on – would your ex-colleague feel the need to apologise to you if he had changed his mind similarly?”.
“No way. He is very good at thinking about what he wants and what works for him. The clients and boss have to settle for second place, and no one would ever expect him to say sorry” she responded.
Hmm, even more interesting.
The world responds to our energy. If we act with certainty and conviction when we make decisions then they are generally accepted. Sometimes this happens begrudgingly but so be it.
The reality is that when we apologise for our decisions, the people around us tend to expect an apology about all the other decisions we make too. No one needs that.
I know it sounds incredibly simple to own and be confident with one’s choices, but I’m afraid the best tips and advice in life are simple! Which is even better.
Test it out, I promise you will be happily surprised.