And Falling in love with the word “no“.
It’s crazy that the older you get, the quicker time passes by. At least that’s how it feels. I can’t quite believe I’ve already been in Bali for almost four months, time really does fly and the time to leave is here.
Even the thought of my 27th birthday coming up is mind-boggling to me. It feels surreal to know that that’s how old I am. I left home when I was 21 to travel and I don’t feel any older, but I definitely am wiser.
As I’ve said before, I have been spending this time truly leaning into Bali’s way of life and moving at a snail’s pace. I am a born traveller at heart, and can never normally stay still, but I am totally enjoying the art of relaxation at the moment and listening to my body’s need to slow down and be still. It really is craving stillness and stability, we always want what we don’t have and at the moment, living in hotels is getting a bit overwhelming.
Most of my energy is going into the inner work and I have been really forced to reflect on myself and the habits that were just not serving me. Being still allows for so much time for gratitude and appreciation for where I am now and how far I have come, as well as catering for self-growth and real personal change.
I am truly amazed to have found a girl who wants to spend every waking moment with me and I can hand-on-heart say that she is the reason I have moved into a place of feeling safe in my skin and able to truly be me. She showed me that it was so worth waiting for a love that doesn’t only love you for you, but encourages pure authenticity and vulnerability no matter what. She constantly pushes me to be the best, and coolest, version of my true self.
I find that when I am at my mental lowest, I lean into self-destructive habits and it creates a cycle of needing external validation to feel worthy and thus burning out from living for the ego and forgetting all about the soul. I have had to stop and make active decisions to ditch the ego and get back to my core.
Communication is one of my biggest weaknesses. Like a lot of us, I am a people pleaser and a lot of my anxiety comes from the fear of disappointing others. I have a tendency to let others choose for me, and this has created a personality of indecisiveness which I loathe sometimes.
Becoming consciously aware of this has led me to really lean into the act of saying no and setting boundaries with friends and strangers. It gets to the point where you have no other choice but to change the things that are not serving you anymore and I find myself celebrating times when I take a stand for myself and listen to myself. It’s my new favourite thing and has come with practice, practice, practice! The feeling leaves me on such a high.
I almost struggle to get in touch with my true wants and needs, after years of pushing them down and listening to outside voices. It has really taken a lot to get back to my inside voice and advocate for myself instead of worrying about others (easier said than done).
Being virtually alone in Bali has really allowed me space and time to connect with myself. As much as I miss my friends and family, there is a benefit to being without so many people around. It is a lot easier to practice the word “no” with strangers than with friends, and that’s exactly what I have been doing. It has led to growing self-confidence within myself, as well as the voice within getting louder and louder and becoming easier to use.
While it is extremely uncomfortable and almost feels embarrassing to go against the grain of the majority, it is so much more beneficial to listen to yourself and do what you want to do. The other night I met my friend for dinner and a few drinks, afterwards we ended up in a club and I immediately just knew I didn’t want to be there.
I am totally over spending hours in a club and find that even the amount of people and close proximity of others can make me feel extremely overstimulated. I spent about 20 minutes in there before working up the courage to put the practice to use and say I was going home. This made me nervous, as I still had the image in my head that I would be seen as “boring” however, I knew I had to do it for myself to continue leaning into being uncomfortable.
In the past, I would have downed a few drinks to get me through and make the dancing a bit easier but now I feel like I respect myself, and know myself, a lot more to listen to my feelings and needs rather than numb them. Every time I listen to myself and take action, it’s like a building block upon the confidence to continue doing it.
Working on a new relationship with alcohol has been amazing. I never thought that I would be turning down drinks to go home at 9pm but it feels so good. I realise now how detrimental excessive alcohol consumption is to our mental health – although we are always told, I just refused to listen. Coming from Glasgow, it’s a habit that is built in but now there is nothing better to me than waking up early, fresh and hangiexty free. Even the thought of a hangover makes me nervous because I know of the anxiety that comes with it, and it scares me.
Don’t get me wrong, I have had a few wild nights in Bali and suffered the consequences the next day, but each hangover is a reminder of how anxious alcohol makes me. A good night out is a once-in-a-while treat now, compared to every weekend in the past, and has had a massive impact on my physical and mental health. I carry a lot of trauma from getting blackout drunk in the past and is something I am working to release.
Listening to yourself is one of the greatest acts of self-care but it takes commitment to you. People pleasing is easy, yet so hard on the body and mind. I now have so much more to give people, from an authentic place.
If there is something you don’t like about yourself, only you have the power to change. Changes don’t happen overnight and take small steps every day to cultivate new actions, responses and habits. Listening to myself more is just one of the many things I am trying to work on within myself.
There is so much power in self-reflection. I started this journey years ago and then lost it along the way, life gets busy and suddenly self-care routines are put to the bottom of the daily priority list. I am trying to remind myself how important these acts are and that they, in turn, lead to mental strength in preparation for new adventures that are around the corner where our days will be filled with people, activities and less time for me.
If you have made it this far – thank you – and use it as your sign to practice “no” just once today.