I should go grocery shopping. I should finish editing this chapter. I should call my Mother.
Ever notice how many times that should precedes something we don’t really want to do?
*Waits for the dawning astonishment*
Right?! For some reason, it hit me the other day how many times in a week I say I should do something. I should feel this way. I should look like Scarlett Johansen.
But who says you should? Your Mom? Your husband? Your kids?
Nope…it’s usually coming straight from us. Once, we played baseball on a warm summer evening with the other kids in the neighborhood without a care in the world. Now we spend our days slogging through the snow to work. Because we should. We’ve become adults. With all the corresponding responsibilities and expectations. They come at us from all sides – society, family, work, from life in general. And they trap us in a web of actions and feelings that may or may not belong to us.
- Do you really feel like you should act cool and aloof when all you want to do is dance with excitement because it might make you look stupid?
- Do you really feel like you should look like the latest It-Girl/Guy, or could you be happy with yourself if society’s expectations weren’t screaming at you?
- Do you really feel like you should like that group/movie/book/show, just because everyone else thinks it’s fantastic?
Or is that feeling somebody else’s should?
I find I berate myself a hundred times a day for feeling the way I feel instead of the way I should. “Oh, he didn’t mean to call me a cow, he’s just having a bad day. I should just drop it.” Or “I’m starving and I really want to run out for lunch, but I brought a yogurt. I should eat that so I don’t turn into a blimp.”
Notice something? (And yes, obviously these examples are a little over the top) Every time we deny our real feelings with something we *should* be doing, we’re treating ourselves like dirt. And even worse, we’re getting farther and farther from who we really are and what we really feel.
Don’t get me wrong – goals serve a purpose to keep us on track with what we need to get done and keep us accountable, and there is always something that we’re going to need to do to keep our job/family/friends/life, but there’s a huge difference between a goal and a should. We choose what goals we want to accomplish. Shoulds have a way of guilting us into doing something. Unfortunately, I don’t think shoulds will ever go away entirely. But today, try noticing how many times you start a thought or sentence with “I should…” I think you’ll be surprised.
And then practice a little kindness to yourself and say “I want…”