It’s Okay to Say ‘No,’ to Not Return the Text, to Not Pick Up the Phone, to Not Answer Emails…

Forever ago, I wrote a long complaint about the process of trying to get a divorce from my phone. Now, months later from that point, I find that my relationship with my phone is being tested again, only this time, it isn’t technology that is pushing back, it’s my relationships.

CONTEXT: I have never been the best text-er, phone call answer-er, or email responder, just ask my dad. When he first decided to get me a cell phone, he would get so frustrated at how I never answered my phone that he vowed to turn it off. Occasionally he would do that, and I would come back to him pleading for him to turn it on. I partially blame my lack of response from being an early nineties baby and thus living without technology at home beside a television for most of my childhood.

That being said, most of my personal relationships have been tested by my very lackadaisical approach to having a phone. To with which I either continue to say, “I’m sorry, I just don’t pay attention to my phone,” which is true, for the most part, or, “I’m sorry, I just didn’t want to respond to you right now.” If I choose the first option, then I am a liar, if I choose the second, then I am rude.

Am I?

I mean, what happened to the time when we didn’t have the ability to just share something with someone right away. Was it rude then to wait to tell them or wait for their reply if not in person?

No.

So then just because I have a small device that allows me to connect with anyone in the world, means that now I have to be open for communication to everyone 24/7?

There is so much science saying that the average Joe doesn’t necessarily work a forty-hour work week. Instead, it is more like a forty to sixty hour work week, and this has grown significantly due to the accessibility of technology—now, at any given point in time we can be reached, and in most cases, we have to respond. These societal demands play out in various ways, and some even physical, where common problems today are muscle spasms, caused by too much caffeine, too little sleep, and the constant vibration of our phones. In a way, its almost as if we are being trained to respond quickly. So what is one to do?


SOLUTION: Boundaries, it’s the magical word your therapist has been telling you for years, and yes, they should exist beyond the realm of personal relationships, we must set boundaries for everything, even our phones.

Most of the time our inability to set boundaries is because we don’t actually know what our limits are. We need to be able to ask ourselves, what is my ideal situation? Be it about work, relationships, social media, phone time, etc., and then keep it.

If you don’t like being on your phone all the time, permit time for yourself to be on it casually, and then turn it off. If you don’t like responding to texts constantly, then turn off your volume, or notify the people that need to that you aren’t going to be answering anything unless its an emergency.

That is your boundary.

You get to decide what your boundaries are, no one else. But! You have to change your behavior once you’ve made the decision. If you stick to your word, then people will understand and follow accordingly—if you are lax about your boundary, then so will others.

This needs to be true for every scenario in your life, regardless of whether or not you will lose a friend, or have an insane boss. You are human and you have limits, and in order for you to function the best, you must take of yourself first.

This is just my own personal food for thought this week. This month has been unofficially declared as ‘Get Your Shit Together Month,’ so why not start by setting boundaries.

Let me know in the comments how you keep your boundaries or don’t because we all have boundary issues.