Letting Go of Shoulds

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I started writing BellaSparks for a Monday with the intent to send out a personal message every week. Perhaps you’ve noticed I’ve been a little lax. First it was our annual fundraiser Kristi’s Big Night Out and Golf Tournament that took all my time, then it was wrapping up the fundraiser, then deadlines for the next issue of BellaSpark magazine, so on and so on. I feel guilty. “I should write something,” I tell myself every week. “I should get this done. After all, I tell people I am a writer. I should write.”

My husband says I use the word should a lot – always telling my children and him what they should do. I realize he’s right. Not only do I impart what I think they should do, I am constantly tell myself what I should be doing. I should eat better. I should exercise more. I should turn off the TV and read a book. I should get this project done and not procrastinate any longer. I should go to bed earlier. I should scrub the shower before it gets totally disgusting. Not only that, but I send myself conflicting messages: I should spend more time working and I should work less and have more balance in my life, sometimes all in the same day! My life is one big SHOULD.

Do you spend much of your life telling yourself what you should do? "Shoulds" are about obligation, habit, and worst of all, other people's expectations. The word should creates anxiety, inner conflict and resistance. Maybe it’s time we get rid of that word and quit shoulding all over ourselves and others. The dictionary defines the word as: must, would, ought, ought to, had better, have a duty to, be duty-bound to, have to, be supposed to. And here’s another one: used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone's actions. Ick, that sure leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I have decided I need to take another approach in my day to day life. I am going to choose to live in the moment. Yes, maybe I should scrub the floors, but my soul wants to be out in the sunshine so am going to take a walk instead. And yes, I should be working in my office, but I really feel like painting the bedroom. At times I know I should go to bed early, but like tonight, I am inspired to write this article and end up working at my computer until 2:00 am. Some afternoons I find I just can’t sit at my desk any longer and end up taking a nap instead. I even tell myself I should meditate more to stay connected to my higher self, when in reality, I know I often connect best when I’m doing something mindless like riding my bike, taking a walk, doing housework, or painting the walls. It’s when I let go of all the things I should be doing that allows me to tune into my higher self or spirit with ease.

I am learning that when I listen to my soul, to what my higher self or spirit wants, the end result is way more productive than when I try to force things. When I forget about what I should do and go for the bike ride, or paint the walls with abandon, I find the inspiration for the next column or project flows to me effortlessly. Letting go of all our shoulds can be difficult, we have after all been trained and told what we should do our entire lives. What would it feel like, if instead of the shoulds, we listened to our soul, our heart, and did what felt right in the moment?

Perhaps we should give it a try. Oops, there I go again.

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