Do you ever find yourself agreeing to things or saying yes to things you really don't want to do, just to keep others happy? But then find that those small things you've said yes and committed to, all of a sudden become big things and start to keep you awake at night with worry? Do you ever not do things you want to do, because you are scared of what others might think? Why do we do this and why do sweat the small stuff? Why do we beat ourselves up?
Because we feel guilty
Your friend talks you into doing a crazy challenge, the kind that puts you way out of your comfort zone and the kind of challenge you definitely don't feel fit enough to do. You agreed, albeit reluctantly, but now the closer it gets to the challenge, the more you are worrying, not sleeping and realising it was a crazy idea to agree to, but you don't want to let your friend down and now feel you HAVE to do it.
Here's the thing, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. Rather than feel guilt, be honest and tell your friend you don't feel ready for it. Free yourself of the agony and worry you are putting yourself through by taking control and doing this for you, no-one else.
Because we are afraid of being judged
You are at a party and don't want to dance because you are afraid of what people might think of your moves on the dance floor. Ask yourself what's the worst that can happen if people judge your dance moves? People are more likely to think you are fun and know how to let your hair down if they see you dancing.
People are going to judge you in life no matter what, so the best thing you can do is be yourself. Always live your life for you, no-one else, and don't let the fear of being rejected, disliked or judged prevent you from being you.
Because we focus on the negatives
You can't get that negative comment someone made about you on Facebook out of your head. Why? As humans, we have a tendency to seek out the negatives over the positives. One argument is because we are neurologically or physiologically predisposed towards focusing on negative information. The argument has its roots in an evolutionary-biological account of how humans decide what to pay attention to. It is evolutionarily advantageous to prioritise negative information, the argument goes, because the potential costs of negative information far outweigh the potential benefits of positive information. The human brain is, as a consequence predisposed towards focusing on negative information.
So, even if the positives outweigh the negatives, we are pre-disposed to focusing on the negatives. If the person who made the comment is someone who you really don't need to sweat about, delete it, unfriend/unfollow them, ignore it and move on. Focus on the positives and let the negatives go.
Because we feel obliged
Despite spinning a thousand plates already, you've just agreed to help out with the PTA at school by baking cakes for the summer fete. You are panicking at the fact you've taken on this task, dreading telling your other half, because it's time you don't have and are already thinking of all the other things you are going to have to sacrifice to make this happen, You agreed because when you were asked, you felt obliged as a parent to do something to help. Saying 'yes' because you feel obliged to help is not a good reason to see yes.
Say 'yes' because you want to, because it's something you feel passionate about helping with or because you have the time to give. Next time you are in that situation, ask yourself first if it's something you 'want to do' or something you 'feel obliged to do' before giving your answer.
Catherine Asta Labbett, is the founder and owner of Yorkshire based 'Bringing Sparkle Back' delivering Psychotherapy, Relationship and Life Coaching exclusively for women.