Do you always reply to the text messages you receive?
After how many days do you think it’s normal to get a response to your e-mail?
Do you always expect an answer on your messages?
“I always have to be available.
I have to respond to everyone.
I have to respond quickly.”
These are the things I tell myself.
I put lots of pressure on myself.
I have the limiting believe that if I won’t respond or respond too late, that I do something wrong or that I’m a bad person or that I am not good enough.
Of course, no one is telling me I have to respond to them.
I mean, some people might expect an answer (ASAP?). But no one is telling me I should.
No one is telling me that I have to respond on the same day.
I only tell this to myself.
And if someone would tell me, that would be extremely bad news, because then I must have done something really really wrong I think.
So for anyone who would felt ignored or neglected by me: don’t worry, I am aware of it. I haven’t forgotten you. Or I have, because I try to work on being less available at the moment. 😉
I think I can call myself quite reliable. I think people know, or expect, that I will text back, and soon. Almost all the time. Maybe there is a few texts I won’t respond to. But I think I can count those times on two hands (is that English?).
It’s just crazy how many messages you get nowadays. How “available” you are nowadays. People can call you, people can send you messages on WhatsApp, people can send you an e-mail, people can send you a message on Facebook or Instagram… And I probably forget something now as well.
Sometimes I think: leave me aloooooone! 😉
But yeah, that’s something I am responsible for myself, obviously.
Of course, you can say: “Hansie, switch off your phone or notifications, delete your Instagram and Facebook.”
Yeah there is ways, there is ways. But it’s not that easy.
For example when I was traveling, I was like: this could be the perfect moment to just be completely off the radar. But then… you just need your phone for everything. You could still delete your apps, but with some people you have to communicate, for some tours you had to book through WhatsApp etcetera…
It’s just not that simple, we just can’t live completely without our phones nowadays.
Also at the moment: I delete Instagram and Facebook every now and then, because I just don’t want the distraction of it. But, I do find it a good way to share, to “promote” my Brainwaves.
I mean, if someone has another suggestion, be my guest! But at the moment I download Instagram again every now and then to post my Brainwaves, and then I delete it again… That’s also a way of course.
So, this is what happens when I receive a message:
It obviously pops up on my screen.
And once I’ve seen it, it becomes immediately an extra task on my To Do list.
My head is one big walking To Do list, so this feeds the demon.
So, let’s say I get five messages, my head goes like this:
“TING TING TING SURPRISE!! You’ve got five extra tasks on your To Do list for today!
- You got a text from person A, respond to her!
- An e-mail for a new project, e-mail them back ASAP!
- A message in your Instagram inbox from B, he asks you a question so quick quick quick!
- Your dad sends you another article, read it today!
- A voice note from person C! Listen to it NOW!”
My head creates immediately a To Do list, with all external things, next to the To Do’s I create for myself as well. And it stays in my head until I’ve done something with it. Once all those tasks are in my head, I can’t get rid of it. It gives me lots of pressure, the idea there’s so much I have to respond on, ASAP. And then I want to get rid of it ASAP.
That’s why I tend to respond so quickly. At least I don’t have to think about it anymore.
But let me look at other people. I know so many people who are “bad” at texting.
People who ask you: “How are you?” and then you respond and then you will never get a respond back.
Or people who don’t send anything back for a long time.
And sometimes I can think: Hello, why do you ask me a question and then I answer and then you don’t respond anymore?
If I would really listen to my inner critic, Harry, it would sometimes annoy me. Of course because I am someone who tries to be the perfect quick responder. So it says more about me than other people.
Or I would think: Oh no, they don’t respond anymore, I must have said too much or I must have said something wrong.
But most of the times I can be realistic and think: Ok, those people have a healthy relationship with their phone. At least they don’t feel that pressure like I do (or they still feel it but don’t react to it immediately, like me).
So, there’s some things I try to experiment with at the moment:
- I try to accept that I create this To Do list in my head with all the messages that I have to respond to. Because that is a pattern that happens automatically still, I can’t get rid of that immediately. It’s just that I react to that To Do list and put the pressure on myself that I HAVE to do it NOW that creates the real problem. Can I just wait a bit longer with sending a message back? Even though it feels uncomfortable? Can I prioritize my messages? What messages need a quick response; what message can wait for a few days?
When I wait, do people get angry at me or get restless because I haven’t message back? Do people don’t want to work with me anymore because I don’t reply on my e-mails the same day? No, not at all. Ok great, maybe that’s a sign that it’s ok to not be available immediately all the time.
- Can I leave my phone off in the mornings so I won’t get disturbed in my morning routine? In that way I keep the mornings to myself. I start the day with giving myself full attention. I’ll have the full focus on myself instead of external stimuli and give myself time to wake up and to be ready for the outside world. Because if I wake up and look at my phone first thing in the morning, then I will start my day with creating a massive To Do list and with pressure immediately.
- Can I give myself a day per week, completely for myself? I switch my phone off the whole day, I won’t go on my laptop. And I only do things that I feel like doing. No one who can disturb me, only my own head to deal with. Even though I will feel discomfort still, because what if I miss an important message!? At least I don’t get disturbed by all the messages. And I’ll learn that it’s ok and the world still survives if I am unavailable for a day.
It’s not only with texts to be honest. It’s the same with planning activities. Sometimes you can look at your calendar and be like: how did it become so full? OVERWHELMING! Full of things you said yes to because you felt like you had to.
But sometimes it feels like your calendar is full of plans from other people, and not truly your own plans. All you want is just time for yourself sometimes or being able to do something spontaneously.
We want to be available for people all the time and then we forget about ourselves.
Or I do, maybe I should speak for myself.
Of course there is this dilemma, because: you have people you care about, you want to see them. We all have busy lives and some people you haven’t seen in ages. You almost feel guilty: “I already had to say no 3 times, I can’t say no a 4th time… I would be a bad friend.”
Or, what will be the case in my situation: “I’ve been away for 6 months, it would be really selfish to say I need even more time alone before I can meet people again.”
I am a little bit scared of this when I go back to the Netherlands. I am in England now and I don’t have that big of a social life here. I’m actually quite happy with it. Not that I don’t want to see people, but I find it so hard to create a balance or say no to people, especially if you don’t see them that much anyway. But I feel that it’s also something that gives me pressure. Having to meet up with everyone all the time. Feeling obligated in a way. That’s not how it should be. It should be fun and spontaneous. I love living with an open calendar and see what I feel like on the day itself. And I love to spend time alone.
I prefer to put things in my calendar with a pencil. So I can erase it, even though I use my digital calendar, but you get what I mean. 😉
I’ll say to people: I won’t promise anything. I might come, I might not. I want to be able to see on the day itself if I feel like it or not. Also, if I would say yes and then I have to cancel eventually, that feels actually even worse. Then I’ll feel even more guilty.
And I don’t want to think that I’m a bad friend anymore, if I say no in the end or anyway.
I think it’s starting to be more important to be my own best friend, if anything.
I wonder how other people deal with this?
If you have any tips or experiences. I would love to hear them!
You can find me on instagram or send me an email.
Thanks for reading, bye!
If you prefer to listen, you can listen to my Brainwaves, here:
I really hope you will be able to give yourself a mind switch on this. Because yes, you need to be your own best friend, and not the friend of the whole world. And if your friends don’t want to understand this, you might not need them as friends.