3 Things to Do If You REALLY Want to Cancel Plans but Feel Guilty

Health Information Relationships

At their best, social plans can give you something to look forward to, fulfill your basic need for human connection, and allow you to add something fun to your calendar instead of yet another work meeting. At their worst, they can feel obligatory and leave you fantasizing about crossing them out with a bold black line.

To bail or not to bail? If the 7-million-plus view count for the TikTok hashtag #CancelPlans is any indication, I’m not alone in regularly struggling with that question. It’s a form of decision paralysis many of us seem to suffer with, which is why I enlisted Micheline Maalouf, LMHC, licensed therapist and owner of Serein Counseling in Orlando, for help. Here, the anxiety expert (who struggles with this particular social dilemma herself) shares her best advice for what to do when you feel conflicted about canceling plans.

Ask yourself why you feel conflicted and notice what comes up.

“Usually, when we’re conflicted, we have needs on each side that are not being met, and if we don’t check in with ourselves, we may be neglecting important information from our minds and bodies,” Maalouf tells SELF. For example, maybe you agreed to go to a party on Saturday night, but as the weekend approaches you start dreading the event or even resenting your friends for inviting you in the first place. “You might notice that there’s a part of you that wants to follow through with the plans, while there’s another part that wants to cancel, stay home, and withdraw,” she says.

Maalouf recommends addressing the anti-social part of yourself with questions like, “What emotions and thoughts come up when I think about going?” and “What are some of my needs that are not being met?” You might get answers like, “I feel exhausted; it’s been a rough week” or “I never have time for myself.” Next, check in with the part of you that does want to keep your plans, and identify your needs via the same questioning process. “Maybe you want to socialize and spend time with friends, or perhaps you see the event as a form of self-care and unwinding after a hard week,” Maalouf says.

Once you’ve checked in with both sides, you can try to find a solution that will meet as many of your needs as possible. For example, you could go to the party for an hour or so but make it clear that you’re not staying long, or maybe you decide it would be better to schedule make-up plans with your friends for the following day or weekend after you’ve had a chance to recharge. “When you use this process to listen to your entire self, you’re more likely to make the best decision for your well-being and minimize resentment or regrets,” says Maalouf.

Tell your friends (or family) how you really feel.

“When thinking about canceling, you might initially feel anxious about how to communicate that,” says Maalouf. “It doesn’t feel good to cancel plans, especially if you’re a people pleaser.” However, she says, reminding yourself that the folks who genuinely care about you will support you and understand your decision can help ease your anxiety.



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