Bad Case of the Shoulds

28697870_sAs a child growing up I never felt as much peer pressure as a lot of my friends. I didn’t feel the need to dress like everyone else, party with the popular crowd or drink or do drugs. I never felt compelled to do anything just because other people were doing something. As an adult things have stayed the same. We still live in an apartment and pursue our passions rather than make lots of money and buy a house.

But I was raised with some fairly built in guilt around certain behaviors that I’m only now trying hard to break. The behavior can be boiled down to one phrase “I should.”

Not I “should” make more money or I “should” wear better clothes. But I “should” spend more hours of the day working. I “should” write four blog posts a week, not three. I “should” email old friends and send handwritten letters. I “should” bake my own bread more often. I “should” make my own yogurt. I “should” reply to all those people in my inbox who still deserve a response. I “should” do laundry or grocery shop or mop the kitchen. I “should” reorganize the pantry and wash the moldings.

We all know the list and how unproductive it actually is.

The new question I am asking myself is how much more could I be accomplishing if I spent less time thinking about what I should do, and more time thinking about what I want to do. Take for instance my significant need to grocery shop today. We’ve been out of fruits and vegetables for two days now. I really “should” grocery shop. But I’m using the word should because Thursdays are my home day. The day I use to catch my breath and make sure I’m healthy and rested for classes on Friday morning and a full line up of patients in the afternoon. I never grocery shop on Thursdays because it is my day of rest. But all day instead of just remembering that I’m supposed to rest, write blogs and bring my books back up to date, I’ve spent most of the day stewing about not grocery shopping. It is nonsense.

There are definitely plenty of things in life that we don’t want to do. But when we use that dirty word we reveal that now isn’t the ideal time to be doing that task. Our bodies, mind and probably our calendars all suggest some other task.

I spent so much of my life pushing up hill. If it wasn’t incredibly difficult than it must not be the route to success. But every once in a while I would get sidetracked and do something lazy and some big offering would present itself. You get rewarded for chosing the easy route often enough and you start to prefer that path.

If I really examine my history or doing things like grocery shopping and laundry I will remember that some mornings I wake up very excited to do these tasks and I’m very efficient and productive. When I try to force it on days that it feels like too much, I end up grumpy and more exhausted.

If we take out the guilt around doing certain tasks it is easier to see that there are certain times it is actually enjoyable to do a lot of the tasks we put off for ages.

So for the rest of this day, I’m not going to feel guilty about being tired and overdone. I’m instead going to make a list of things I would like to do and feel capable of doing regardless of how many other things “should” be on that list. I’m going to trust that my body will take care of itself and that it knows the best way to get me through the week.

Copyright: icetray / 123RF Stock Photo

1 thought on “Bad Case of the Shoulds”

  1. Pingback: Empowered Decision-Making: Who Is In Control of Your LIfe? – Window of Heaven Acupuncture & Yoga

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