Today I woke up and immediately began thinking of what I should do.
It’s Saturday, the end of week 7 of social distancing and while things are beginning to open up, I’m feeling unsure of how to proceed with life.
When I say that thought out loud it feels pretty overwhelming.
“I’m feeling unsure about how to proceed with LIFE”.
But what is PROCEEDING WITH LIFE? That sounds SO BIG.
So my brain dives into saying things like:
I should finish that painting project. It’s half done and I’m sure the neighbors are wondering if we’ll ever finish it.
I should get outside and do something because the good weather won’t last.
I shouldn’t work today. It’s SATURDAY. Maybe you should take a break and hang with your family.
I should get dressed and get going. It’s 10:30am and you’ve been sitting in your robe for three hours DOING what? (Coffee, reading, research).
My programming has sounded like this for a LONG time, but I’m onto it these days. I’m more aware that anytime I’m doing things because I SHOULD, I feel resistance. I also feel guilt and then some frustration and even anger. Each of the feelings have a distinct flavor:
Resistance most commonly shows up as buffering/procrastinating/overthinking.
Buffering a catch-all term for the things we do when we want to avoid. It can be binge watching, eating, drinking, scrolling, working (this looks productive, but it’s still a tactic to avoid), etc.
Procrastinating is doing everything BUT the thing we “should do”.
Overthinking, one of my brain’s favorites, is letting your brain act like an unsupervised toddler. You know how much toddlers can get into, left to their own devices? Yep, that’s my brain thinking a million different thoughts that aren’t necessarily helpful.
Guilt is that sinking feeling that reminds me that I should be a “good girl”, “good mom”, “good wife”, “good whatever”. It still amazes me that at 46, I’ve got this list of expectations of what good means.
Frustration comes when I decide to do what I SHOULD and regret it. A lot of times it's to please other people. I've come to understand that people pleasing is because I want other people to perceive me a certain way (goes back to that whole "good" thing).
Anger comes out when I decide to blame other people for my choices (that “I had to make”). It’s easier to put my shit on other people than take responsibility for my own decisions.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Do you want to get off the SHOULD train?
I was desperate to feel another way, but first I needed to really SEE what these thoughts were creating for me.
NOTHING I WANT.
Here’s the honest truth, SHOULD is still lurking in my brain. And it might be forever, but it no longer sits in the driver’s seat of my decision making. (Ok, it does sometimes because I'm HUMAN, but I don’t beat myself up over it).
My coach introduced me to COULD, WILL and WANT to help me out.
Could is where your thoughts get creative.
Want is where you decide what YOU really want on your list.
Will is what you COMMIT to.
I dropped the mind drama of “shoulds" and used COULD and WANT to arrive at WILL.
I will buy paint for the porch today.
I will allow myself time in my robe until noon on the weekends.
I will take a walk and a bike ride.
I will write a blog post this morning.
I’ve given my brain a decision making process where I take 100% responsibility.
Some people may look at this process and think "I DO NOT have time for that."
My question is how much time are you spending with resistance, guilt, frustration and anger?
What do those emotions COST you?
For me, I was TIRED from it and of it.
It left a giant space in between who I was and who I wanted to be.
So I found coaching, got off the SHOULD train and starting doing the work on myself.
Awareness precedes change. You start by looking at your shoulds, writing them down and sitting with them.
At first, it feels awful to realize your creation: unnecessary suffering.
But if you stick with it, change is inevitable.
Who you want to be is who you WILL become.
What WILL you decide today?