I create a lot of my own problems. It’s not like I get up in the morning and think, “Today I’m going to be irritated at all of the things I can’t change,” or, “My problem-solving abilities seem to be on the fritz right now, so I’m not going to be able to think my way out of an awkward situation.” But that’s exactly how it is for me some days. I get into scenarios that I might be able to handle on a normal day and just can’t seem to handle them when I’ve had too little sleep or when I’m in the middle of a personal crisis.

The way I seem to do this the most is by agreeing to do things later (because now is not a good time) or by getting in to a conversation that isn’t immediate and isn’t good. Mostly I do this because I just don’t want to deal with this in the moment, but other times it’s because I was taught to be “nice”, which to me means volunteering my time and energy for things I don’t really care to do in order to make someone else happy. Eventually, though, later catches up with me, and I don’t seem to have any more time or energy then to do what I agreed to do last week or last month, and I still don’t say anything about it.

I have been working for a long time on saying “no” to things I don’t want to do, and I’ve had a bit of success, but when I am stressed or tired or in a good mood, I find myself doing it and getting overcommitted again. So besides being committed to saying no if I feel like saying no to requests, I’m also working on becoming a problem-free zone. What that means to me is that if there is drama around me and it has nothing to do with me, I can choose not to engage it. The other half of that is choosing not to create unnecessary drama in my life.

Of course I’ll speak up if I see injustices happening around me, and I’ll get involved in things I am passionate about and that make a difference to me. What I won’t do, though, is spend my time solving other people’s problems when they didn’t ask and are quite capable of doing it for themselves. I also won’t jump in to gossip or other negative interactions happening around me. And finally, I won’t volunteer to do something I really don’t want to do simply because no one else is asking to do it and I feel uncomfortable. It could be that if no one wants to do it, it doesn’t need to be done after all.