Celebrated author and clinical pscychologist Dr Rebecca Ray outlines the things she refuses to do having turned 40. For Dr Ray it’s all about freedom, brave living and self-preservation…

It’s not rare for me have periods of self-reflection. I do so on a daily basis, and deeply, in writing, on a monthly basis at least. But the eve of my 40th birthday brought a gift I wasn’t expecting, until I sat down and really thought about it: Freedom.

There’s something about the beginnings of this decade which has allowed me to drop the residual baggage I’ve been carrying around from trying. 

It’s not that I’m giving up trying. It’s that I don’t feel the need to continue trying in directions that don’t fit for me, need to be forced, or are designed to make someone else feel more comfortable. The freedom I feel is the kind that comes with a profound comfort in one’s own skin, the skin we knit for ourselves with our values, purpose, and intentions.

In the service of articulating what this freedom feels like, I’ve listed 40 things that I refuse to do anymore.

Some of these have been brewing throughout the decade of my thirties. Some of them have only been birthed recently. And some of them have always been a part of the fabric of my personality, but I no longer feel the need to tip toe politely around them. In this season of release, I’ll no longer:

  1. Ignore my feelings.
  2. Hide my feelings.
  3. Apologise for having feelings.
  4. Explain myself to anyone outside of my inner circle.
  5. Bend my truth to make someone else comfortable.
  6. Apologise for setting a boundary.
  7. Justify why I go to bed early.
  8. Justify why I don’t drink alcohol.
  9. Assess when it’s acceptable to hold my wife’s hand in public.
  10. Change my hairstyle because I’ve worn it this way for ‘too long’.
  11. Wear shoes that hurt me.
  12. Place someone else’s opinion above the validity of my own intuition.
  13. Wear make up when I don’t feel like it.
  14. Respond to emails or requests/comments/DMs on social media that cross my boundaries, lack manners, or indicate a lack of self-awareness and empathy on the part of the other person.
  15. Answer my phone to anyone other than my inner circle.
  16. Continue friendships that have faded just because of their historical length of time.
  17. Agree to someone’s request to “go for coffee so I can pick your brain”.
  18. Be more active on social media in my personal life to avoid someone being offended if I don’t ‘like’ their pictures. 
  19. Upgrade my phone because the phone company would like more of my money.
  20. Allow someone to force me into the role of having all the answers because I happen to be a psychologist.
  21. Give energy to someone whose judgement of me is based on not knowing me or my intentions.
  22. Justify refusing to spend time with anyone who drains my energy.
  23. Box any part of myself into a label for someone else’s satisfaction or closed-mindedness.
  24. Pretend I can’t wait to go to a big, crowded, loud event.
  25. Agree to go to big, crowded, loud events.
  26. Ignore my introversion.
  27. Hide my introversion.
  28. Apologise for my introversion.
  29. Take responsibility for helping someone when they’re committed to an attitude of “It’s easier said than done.”
  30. Judge my body against standards set by companies determined to keep women hating themselves to make money.
  31. Judge my body for what it’s not.
  32. Attach my worthiness to anything other than if I’m living in alignment with my values and the brave version of myself.
  33. Ruin a whole day because of a wobbly start.
  34. Compare myself with anyone else, including previous versions of me.
  35. Withhold credit and encouragement from myself.
  36. Deny my inner child the re-parenting she needs.
  37. Be ashamed of the scars I manage from my tender psyche that has known trauma.
  38. Wait for someone else to acknowledge that I am brave, lovable, and worthy before I believe it.
  39. Strangle my work with perfectionism and expectations that don’t allow it to be birthed exactly as it needs to arrive into the world right now.
  40. Think that I have to do it all myself when the universe is right here waiting for me to collaborate with it.

If you were to bring awareness to things you’re carrying that are holding you back, wasting your energy, and keeping you stuck, what would show up for your season of release?

Dr Rebecca Ray is a writer, speaker and clinical psychologist. She invites you to contemplate your true self, in its bravest form in her book, The Universe Listen to Brave, How Courage Will Change Your Life.

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