About two years ago I did a program that helped teach new skills to deal with anxiety and depression. While it was mostly a half ass job of group therapy it did teach me quite a few things and my favorite being the idea that we are always ‘shoulding’ on ourselves.
The basic idea is this – so much time is spent with our thoughts whether you are an anxious person or not. Sometimes our though sound like this: “I should be trying harder” “I should have a better job” or my favorite “I shouldn’t feel this way”. The only thing these thoughts do is make us feel bad because if there is a ‘should’ there is something that we are telling ourselves we are missing. We also often create a narrative that if we are missing something then we are not capable which is not true.
This move has left me ‘shoulding’ on myself quite a bit. “I shouldn’t have done this” “I should like it right away” “I should be trying harder” and sometimes “I should just go home”. These thoughts make me feel SO bad. I feel less than, I feel incapable of making good decisions for myself and like I am a failure. In reality… “I may not like it now but it will get better” “Wow this was a big decision, but I am proud of myself for doing it” and even just “Shit, I am out of my comfort zone today, but that is O-K!”.
Thoughts have a way of spiraling, especially when they are negative. I am always trying to be nicer to myself and this practice is one that is particularly challenging but rewarding when I am able to figure it out! The only thing we ‘should’ be doing is whatever we need to love on ourselves.
I challenge you to ask yourself when you ‘should’ what the real phase could be. Is it just a simple rewording once you take a step back? Or is it something that may not being going good and it is time to reach out and get support to turn your should around.
You are your best advocate, your own best friend and can’t be replaced – remember that today!!