Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Tyranny of The Shoulds


It's a little pretty here, but an oh-so-ugly word!  I first heard this term in Grad School.  It's a term coined by Karen Horney, a psychiatrists from the early 20th century, and later developed by a dude named Albert Ellis, who used "should-ing" and other strong language around the topic.

The Tyranny of the Shoulds.  

These Shoulds can be fierce dictators, tyrannical voices ruling our thoughts and decisions, how we see and feel about ourselves.

As soon as I heard this, almost 5 years ago now, I decided I'm done with Should-ing....I will not use that word with myself or any other human.

And I actually stuck to it for a bit and didn't.  I also just replaced it with a bunch of need to/ must/ have to/ if I only/ if I just....It goes on and on from there.

Shoulds are sneaky that way.

Should is a powerful word.  It can be incredibly shaming and incredibly manipulative.  We use it when we want others to do what we want or what we think is best; we use it when we feel like we need to be better/ more worthy; we use it when we shame ourselves even!

In fact, I would argue that the Inner Should-ing is where it's at.  We love to tell ourselves all the things we should do to get happier, more healthy, be a better parent.

For me this means lying in bed at night and going over all the things I should do tomorrow to achieve all my dreams.  Or lying in bed going over the previous day and replaying how I could have handled several things better and what I should have done.

How many times a day do you say "I should have_____" or "If only I could____" or "I just need to_____" or "I've GOT to get better at_____"??

Sound familiar?  You say these things to yourself a lot.  I say them to Me a lot.  To give you an idea of a typical day inside my head, here is just a random example that would probably never happen ;)
  • (Wake up, getting out of bed) I should be a better mom, more available to the kids.
  • (1 hour into the day) I just need to learn how to listen better- this will help my kids know I love them.  I should sit and listen to each of them and their hopes and dreams.
  • (5 minutes later) I've got to get better at time management, then I will have time to sit and listen to my kids.
  • (later, after succeeding at 0 of my Shoulds) If I could just take a nap and check out for a while...then I will be better and then can be a better mom.
  • (5 minutes post-nap) Ok, now I can be available to the kids, I'm gonna rock this...
  • (5 minutes later) I should have been better at that mom thing; I freaking even had a nap!

I am should-ing/ must-ing/ if-only-ing all over myself.  And guess what?
The Should-ing prevents the desired outcome of the Should.

I'm so confident in this statement that I think it could be proven scientifically or through quantum mechanics or something!  It's so very true.  The more I live out of and give voice to my "Shoulds", the less and less I get done, the more cranky of a mother I become, the less energy I have to work, and the cycle continues and continues.

So here is my proposal:

Let's Call a Spade a Spade, or in this case, A Should a Should.  Let's speak these out loud to each other, lets catch our should-ing in the process!
My motto for me when I catch myself saying "I need to/have to/got to/ should_____" is this:  I do not have to do anything.  I am enough.  (I know you are thinking here, well you have to eat, breathe, feed the kids, blah blah, and yes, these things usually require doing.  However, I'm choosing to say I get to do these things that seem mandatory, like breathing, eating, and mothering.  And I get to do them from a place of fullness and enough-ness.  This perspective helps me.)

And here is what I want to say to you, dear friend:  You do not have to do anything.  You are OK exactly as you are.  You may not feel it or think it's true.  It is.  You are enough.  I recognize your enough-ness; I see it in you!!!

Are there things that will need doing?  Sure.  Do you have to do them from a place of Should-ing?  Absolutely not!  Why?  Because those shoulds do not come from you, dear friend.  Those shoulds come from a place that does not belong in our heads.  They are put there by some other person who is not us, or some other force that is not for us.

What would it look like to go through your day feeling no pressure or hidden shoulds, manipulations, or expectations (from yourself or others).  Can we even imagine a world like that?  I can, and I think it might be pretty spectacular!



If you are an oil-lover, guess what?  There is an oil for that(this!) too ;)  This resource has been a big help in my road to emotional wellness, and it suggests lemongrass right at the back of the head where I carry my stress.  I use this affirmation with it too: I am guided by (God/Flow/The Spirit).  For more info message me or visit here.

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