So, here’s a conversation:
- Rachel: I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping for the past several months because I’ve been worried about school.
- Sarah: Why didn’t you *tell* me? I could have helped!
- Dan: It’s going to be really weird going home for Christmas this year now that my sister isn’t talking to us.
- Dave: Why didn’t you *tell* me that your sister did that? I could have helped you! My brother did that too!
If you react that way, it shifts the focus away from your friend who needs help, and onto your self image as a helpful person.
Do not do this. They’re coming to you now. Be there for them now. Don’t be angry on behalf of an imaginary situation you feel cheated of.
Someone else’s personal problem is not about you.
They’re telling you now. Don’t make it about you. Offer support. Not like they owed it to you to want your support all along.
People will try to tell you that you can do things you can’t do.
It’s hard to insist that no, you can’t do them. Or that you can’t do them safely. Or that you can’t do them without using up all your spoons and losing the capacity to do things that are more important.
They will tell you that this is giving up, or being lazy. They will tell you this with their words and their body language. And by pretending that you have not said anything, and just refusing to take into account your actual abilities.
They will tell you this with hate. They will tell you this with good intentions. They will tell you this as concern trolls and terrified parents.
Sometimes, in that situation, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t allowed to say no until you’ve run yourself into the ground trying, or until you’ve tried and failed and things have gone badly wrong. Because people won’t believe you, and will put pressure on you in all kinds of ways.
The thing is, they’re wrong, and you don’t have to believe them or comply with their demands.
It helps a lot to be confident in your ability to judge what you can and can’t do. Sometimes you have to say no over and over.
Knowing ahead of time that something won’t work for you and insisting on planning accordingly isn’t lazy.
It’s being responsible.