I “should” on myself quite frequently and it’s always a messy experience. All of the constant “shoulding” is soiling my soul and putting too much unnecessary pressure on myself, which, in turn, causes a great amount of suffering.
In my opinion, the “shoulds” ought to come in categories. The first is the societal “should. ” Everyone else is doing it so I should too! For instance, I said to myself recently, “I should really go to the trendy Soul Cycle and burn some calories.” Then I realize that I’m not athletic (I was the girl picked last for every team sport in Grammar school) and that I tried spinning once and actually fell off the stationary bike. Who falls off a bike that isn’t moving?!
Then there is the envious “shoulds. ” I have a friend who is always taking exotic vacations while I sit in my cubicle eating Chipotle, purchased from the mall food-court for lunch. I say to myself, “I should travel more.” Then I realize, a) I hate flying, and, b)I cannot stand doing the whole, “do I claim the shared arm rest?” dance And what about the layovers, the jet lag and the fear that I will have to go to an emergency room in a foreign country (I’m not the only one who has that fear). I literally book my vacations so I’m in a 20-mile radius of the nearest ER.
Then there are the “shoulds “of not accepting who you are or your path in life. Here are some of my “shoulds”: “I should be a full time writer already.” “I should have met my soul mate and had children earlier in life.” When I’m telling myself these “shoulds,” I’m in complete denial. As we say in recovery, “acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.” Basically, I cannot be peaceful and serene until I accept any situation, no matter what it is, as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at that very moment in time.
And what about the “shouldnt’s”?! Those can get you into trouble as well. When you have a case of the “shouldn’ts”, you’re going against your gut instinct, your passion and your soul’s purpose. “I shouldn’t pursue a creative career, it’s not practical.” “I shouldn’t quit my job even though I don’t like it.” “I shouldn’t leave my marriage even though I’m unhappy.” Your gut instinct is your higher power talking to you. I don’t know about you, but whenever I go against my gut things invariably go wrong. It’s like going against fate or destiny.
So, if you don’t want to invest in a lifetime supply of Depends, here are seven ways to stop “shoulding” on yourself:
1) RESIST NO EVIL – Yes, I will quote Jesus here. Don’t resist, push or pull your way to, from or against anything. You know what doesn’t resist anything? Nature. It just is. Nature is in the moment and not worried about being somewhere it thinks it should be.
2) STOP PEOPLE PLEASING – So what if your Dad thinks you should go to medical school instead of pursing your dream of being an actor? You’re not living your life to make him happy. Make sure the dreams you’re living are your own.
3) STOP REGRETTING – I should have done this or I should have done that. Those are called regrets and we all have them. It is very arrogant to have regrets. It means that you think you know better than God and that if you just made that one choice then everything would have worked out perfectly. No choice you could have made could alter what was meant to happen anyway.
4) WHAT OTHERS THINK OF ME IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS. There is no sense in fretting about how you’re perceived or what anyone thinks you should be doing. “If I can just get everyone to approve of me then I will feel okay about myself” is that syndrome. It’s really just low self worth.
5) STAY OUT OF THE RESULTS – The only thing we need to do is the footwork; the results are up to your higher power. If you’re “shoulding” a situation then you’re caring way too much about the results or your desired outcome. Let it go.
6) WRITE ABOUT IT – Get out all of your “shoulds” on paper, write about it. Then share it with another person. It will give you perspective.
7) LIVE IN THE PRESENT – Realize that your “should have” perspective is in the past from what has already occurred, which you can do nothing about. You can’t do anything about the future either so why not enjoy the present, because it is a gift.