STOP “SHOULDING” ALL OVER YOURSELF!
BY EMILY GREENER
Expectations really are funny things. They surround us and our society seems to need them in order to know how to function day-to-day. I never thought there was anything wrong with expectations until I realized the problem isn’t what other people expect of us, it’s the expectations we put on ourselves and others that are so dangerous. We’re frantic to be anything and everything other than simply who we are, where we are, right now. The constant internal and external voicing of “should” perpetuates the endless not enough-ness that lives inside our heads and hearts. When we’re going fast, we “should” slow down and when we are slow, we “should” be more productive. We “should” be in a relationship, be single, get better grades, do more, weigh less, fight harder, live longer, be stronger, smarter, and more popular. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.
It’s been 28 years and I’m just now really aware of the critical voice inside my head. She makes me feel bad for being vulnerable or for not being more successful. When my body needs rest, she calls me lazy. And when I prioritize myself over others, she calls me a bad friend. She tells me that in order to have value and keep friends, I better use my gift to lift people up. If I’m not feeling particularly positive or high-energy, I “should” probably just fake it or stay home all together. The word “should” immediately implies that it’s not enough simply just being. You can imagine how easy it must be to live in constant disappointment of ourselves and I wonder how many of us do.
Well I’m here to tell you (and myself) that I’m fed up, so I’m eliminating the word “should” from my vocabulary. I’ll replace it with phrases like, “I’d love to” or just omit the term altogether. You’ll be truly shocked once you start to listen for that word just how often you hear it from people around you and inside your own head. So, I’m going to practice loving myself exactly as I am right now on a daily basis.
Can you imagine if we all agreed to give it our best shot and when we fall short, just call it what it is? “I’m being lazy and eating food that doesn’t give my body what it needs.” “I’m not motivated and my success will be affected by that.” “I’d really love to meditate today because I know how good it makes me feel.” How about some self-compassion? “I’m sorry, self that you don’t feel optimistic right now and whatever you’re feeling is causing you pain, but I know we will get through this.” How revolutionary!