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Ask Allison: 'How do I learn to say no to people without feeling guilty?'

Our resident therapist answers your queries about life and relationships

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Allison Keating

Allison Keating

Allison Keating

Question: Since the lockdown is lifting, I find myself being dragged in all directions. I want to be a good friend to people, but I really miss having total control of my time. I have a few acquaintances through my kids and they are wanting to meet up again, but I just don't want to. It's not them - they are all lovely people, it's me. I just don't want to get back on that hamster wheel of coffees and play dates. Also, I work part-time from home and have two small kids full-time so I have no time for myself. How do I bow out without offending people or without my kids missing out? Why am I so concerned about offending people I hardly know?

Answer: This is a common sentiment at the moment. Your individual experience and identifying what you want to do, going forward, is step one. This is already a challenge as many women find they have been conditioned to think and put others first. So even thinking about this can bring up conflicted feelings, from frustration as to how things are and to how you want them to be. Maybe the first person you need to be friendly with is yourself. This is harder to practise than preach.

Crises bring chaos, but also clarity. It's like in the aftermath of a death, our relationships, life purpose and meaning are all called into question. Life, as it is, becomes clear as 20/20 vision. You may not like how you were living your life but that is the opportunity for change that you have the ability to change. With some of the daily noise of routines stalled, it created a clearing where you could see the proverbial wood from the trees.