Yesterday morning I found myself in a mood that was taking me down. I literally stopped what I was doing and brought myself into the present moment so that I could observe what was happening to make me feel so terrible.
- I observed that I had given myself a task to clean out my closet.
- I also observed that I was having a "should" conversation with myself
The first is harmless enough, the second, lethal.
I was shoulding all over myself.
I leaned in to listen to what my self-talk was...
"I should be outside in the garden, not the closet."
"I should donate half of these clothes..."
"I should get these pants hemmed that have been hanging here for the past 2 years"
"I should never have bought this shirt, it looks horrible on me.."
" I should have cleaned this out months ago.."
Should is a breeding ground for shame and there is almost nothing more shameful, literally, then the idea of sh*tting ourselves, and yet, this is essentially what I was doing. I was covering myself in shame, overwheming myself, and making myself miserable!
How many versions of "should" do we tell ourselves each day?
"I should just be grateful"
"I should go to yoga"
"I should eat better"
"I should have known that"
"I should go on a diet"
"I should __________ (insert anything unhelpful you have not yet done that will only make you feel worse by declaring it).
In addition, shoulding on myself makes me even less likely to make positive changes. Shame, guilt and overwhelm bring inaction and stagnancy. The more I feel like I "should" do something, the less likely I am to actually do it!
Life is difficult enough without layering on guilt and shame about the things we have not done or maintained.
When my children used to fight with each other I would say:
"Gentle words and hands please."
There is a supreme wisdom in the gentleness we offer ourselves and one another. It is with gentle words and gentle hands that we navigate the hard edges of life.
When you find that you are in a negative space and feeling a sense of overwhelm, guilt or shame; check in with yourself and make sure you are not in fact, shoulding on yourself.
Noticing is half the battle.
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