Lena Dunham wrote a powerful essay about the importance of saying no

There’s been a lot of emphasis on saying yes. Leaning in. Working until you can’t take it anymore. Some of these things are good! It’s important to be driven and open to new experiences, but if you take to too far, you can end up feeling like you’ve lost control. Lena Dunham knows this all too well. The writer, director, and actress has had an amazing few years, and a lot of it is thanks to her hard work, but as she explains in a recent essay that appeared on LinkedIn Pulse, she’s learning to take a step back.

She begins the essay with some scenarios that will sound preeeeetty familiar to those of us who can’t say no:

It’s natural to want to please everyone, so much so that you sacrifice your own happiness, and sometimes end up letting your friends down in the process. “But we can only pull off a high wire act for so long before gravity does its job,” Lena writes. “The more my personal relationships suffered, the more I wanted to work. The more I worked, the more work I had to do.”

So over the past year, she began trying something new:

Strangely, saying “no” to the things she really couldn’t do opened up room in her life for commitments that were actually important. It’s a good lesson, and one that often takes us too long to learn. Luckily, words like these allow us to check in with ourselves. Am I giving too much? Do I really want to do this?

With Lena’s encouragement, hopefully we all can start cutting out those unnecessary things that suck away our time and energy, even if it’s just so we can spend one night alone sitting on our couch and watching Girls.

(Image via Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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