A Bad Case of Should-ing
When was the last time you told yourself you “should do” something? If you’re anything like me, you should yourself all day, everyday. I should workout, I should take the dog on a walk, I should get up earlier and be more productive.
Now ask yourself, when was the last time you did something because you truly wanted to? For me, that answer is a little harder to pin down. Did I workout because I thought I was supposed to or because I wanted to?
Should and want can really blur the line – especially in our hectic day to days. I’ve definitely let my “should’s” take control of my “wants”. So how do we find balance between these tangled concepts?
Stop Shoulding all over Yourself
Recently, I was on a Facebook Live Panel about managing change gracefully. The group goes live every week and thanks to this opportunity I was re-introduced to a phrase that I hadn’t thought about since college.
Shoulding all over yourself.
The act of should-ing is telling ourselves that we must do or be a specific kind of person based on our interpretation of what society expects from us. In other words, when we should be ourselves, we tell ourselves to stop being authentic to ourselves and to comply with what we are supposed to do. When we should, we miss out on our wants.
Should and Shame
Shoulding all over ourselves also breeds guilt. When we believe we are supposed to do something and we end up not doing the thing we make ourselves feel guilty about it. Guilt is a major de-motivator and can trigger shame and negative emotions towards the thing we think we are supposed to be doing.
When we start shoulding it’s hard to stop. If I decide that I should go on a run but don’t end up running – I start to lose motivation. If I miss one run I may decide that I should go on an extra run later this week, or I should do another workout. And if I end up continuing to not do things I think I should I continue to build that pile of guilt and shame for not doing what I think I’m supposed to do.
When the should’s start coming, they don’t stop coming.
Quitting Should and Identifying Wants
When we should all over ourselves we lose sight of what matters most – what we want. So how do we get out of should? We pay attention to when we use it and the language we use when referring to the things we are working on.
Am I doing this because I want to or because I should?
Ask yourself, do I want to do this or do I think I should do this? If you’re struggling to determine (I usually am) I ask myself who’s idea was this thing? Is it something society tells me or something I came up with? What happens if I don’t do this thing and what happens if I do?
The answers to these questions were illuminating for me – especially when it came to evaluating my career post grad. Dig deep and be honest with yourself.
What do I want and how will I know when I have achieved it?
When something ends up on our want list it’s important to identify some of the details. What is it that I want from this? How will I feel when I have achieved it? It might be helpful to visualize yourself with the want already in your possession. What changes once you’ve achieved this want?
If the details are fuzzy on this or you aren’t sure how you would feel keep asking yourself probing questions to get the details. You do not have to have every detail planned out but if you can’t picture it fully it may be a should in a want’s clothing.
This may feel a bit weird at first but sit down and ask yourself what you want to do. If you’re a calendar/organization junkie like I am block off time on your calendar for play. Do you want to read? Color? Dance? Just sit there and stare at the ceiling? Ask yourself what you honestly feel like doing. If you are recovering from a bad case of the shoulds this may feel forced but keep trying.
I hope this helps and you discover something new about yourself along the way! Leave your should do’s that you are letting go of and your wants in the comments below!
If you need any additional assistance kicking the should’s to the curb reach out – I’m happy to set up a session to chat through your should hang ups and chat through your answers. firstname.lastname@example.org
*I am not a therapist. Please work with a licensed professional for anything health related.