Take a moment to pause and reflect on the sentence ‘I should…’
What do you feel you should do more of/less of/what should you be doing that would serve you better in life at the moment?
Spend a moment to Jot down or bring to mind three (or more) ‘I Shoulds…’
This is an exercise in Louise Hay’s ‘I can Heal your life’ and one which I use with one to one clients all the time.
Often we feel we should… Work harder, be kinder to others, have more confidence in ourselves, Treat others differently, exercise more, eat better, worry less…. And everything else in between.
The truth is ‘Should’ is actually pretty inactive and submissive. Should is a drag. The shadow of ‘Should’ for me is guilt, it suggests what is not. It suggests that we know and acknowledge our own wisdom but we take the power of choice away from ourselves in the moment. It’s a wagging finger rather than rocket fuel.
Where does that pressure of ‘Should’ come from for you? Is it from external pressure from peers, family or societal expectations? Sometimes it can just be a stick to beat ourselves with, in a passive aggressive sort of way of feeling inadequate trying to be better, do better, prove our worth or maybe to not face our own truth.
Should is a shit word. There is nothing, if I pick it apart, that I like about the should. ‘Should’ led me to follow a career and path that wasn’t reeeeaallllyy what I wanted to be doing. ‘Should’ kept me trying in relationships I knew deep down were better as friends. ‘Should’ held me back from saying yes to some invitations and opportunities. Should makes me feel guilty for not being the most perfect, healthy, shiny version of myself.
Look back over your list of 3 ‘shoulds’ now and rewrite them, this time replacing the word ‘Should’ with ‘If I really wanted to I could…’
If I really wanted to I could… exercise more
If I really wanted to I could… worry less
If I really wanted to I could… have confidence in myself
Notice how the power then becomes yours. This moment becomes a fresh start… ‘If I really wanted to I could make loving, healthy, authentic choices and accept that those choices create my life’.
From the moment you wake up in the morning to the moment you go to bed, one day, this day, IS your life. Each tiny moment stacking up to create an experience, each experience stacking up to create a memory or a story… which eventually stacks up to create your life.
Imagine your life without the guilt, pressure or misguidance of should dragging you down.
If this feels relevant to you perhaps when you catch yourself thinking ‘I should…’ just notice what you really mean by that? And notice how it feels if you change it to ‘if I really wanted to, I could’ and then make your choice in the moment.
Sometimes you feel you should go to the gym but you’re full of cold, feeling like poo and might have had a long, hectic day and a bath might actually serve you better. Have the bath – mindfully have that bloomin’ bath! and relieve yourself from the pressure of should whilst you’re doing it. It’s not an excuse to make bad, unhealthy, selfish choices but with a gentle mindful enquiry into what you mean by ‘I should…’ might help lead to a softer, calmer, more content now. Health, vitality, happiness is a balance and making the most loving, healthy, choice in the moment I believe is key.
This grand old adventure from A to B – how you fill your day, with who and what activities you take part in, is your life. Remember that YOU have the power in every moment and every moment is a new beginning, a fresh start.
I bloomin’ love a metaphor and often reflect on my life as a story book, knowing when each chapter draws to a close and when a new one starts. The shit times, challenges and trials I know just make for an interesting plot line where the greatest learning takes place but I know they won’t last forever, they’re just one chapter of many.
I know that expanding my view to the whole like this, to see the bigger picture and then mindfully remind myself to come back to the present moment, right now reminds me that the future chapters are yet to be written. There’s no way of knowing what the future holds but with a gentle acceptance that shit will happen, I know living my life by ‘Shoulds’ keeps my heart and soul heavy and horizon narrow. I deeply know in this present moment that I have the power to follow my bliss, to make loving, empowered, balanced, authentic choices in every moment – now that makes my heart swell up to the size of an endless horizon!
“What is thrilling is that we, ourselves, are capable of rewriting the play or changing our roles by applying intention, grasping the opportunities that arise from coincidence and being true to the calling of our souls” D. Chopra.
Free yourself from the shackles of should. Be mindful (present without judgment), start where you are, do what you can and be kind to yourself. You’re are exactly where you’re meant to be and the future is yours to create.