*That’s ‘shoulding’, just to be clear, otherwise we might have a totally different blog post on our hands!*
From comparing Instagram followers to attending the hottest event of the month – I drench myself in ‘should’. It’s, without a doubt, the most used word in my vocabulary. Often, hand-in-hand with the millennial guilt of not having all of our shit together, ‘shoulding’ has become the latest way we self-berate ourselves for, well, just not being good enough.
Sound familiar? I hear ya. Since going self-employed (you can read about that HERE), ‘shoulding’ has become my little place of comfort. Somewhere I feel very comfortable. A big cosy bed, if you will. Except, unlike a Brothers & Sisters box set, it doesn’t actually make me feel very good because the crux of it is – it’s often not something I *want* to do. In an age where we’re busier than ever, juggling social expectations with acing our career and, potentially starting a family, this ruse of being everything to everyone has created a whole new level of toxic conversations with ourselves.
And the worst thing? ‘Shoulding’ is so subtle, we often don’t even realise we’re doing it. But the huge expectations we pile on ourselves are there and they’re creating an environment of burn-out and unproductive guilt. These are just a couple of ‘shoulds’ that get a little too much attention in my headspace:
I should really do some work after dinner
You go to bed babe, I should reply to all these emails first
I feel so poorly but I should really go to this event I’ve RSVP’d to
I’m 31, I should really be a lot further in my career by now
I could go on and on but these are probably some of the most common ‘should’s that I utter on a daily/weekly basis and it all rolls off the tongue a little too easy. On the one hand, a little ‘shoulding’ can be used as a self motivation method, to push you further in what you want to achieve. A little self chastising can be the difference between a day bossing your to-do list and a SATC series away from Carrie Bradshaw dependency.
But when it starts making you feel bad about yourself, what you’re doing and where you’re at in your life, it’s time to reign it in and change that internal conversation. And this is how!
BE AWARE OF IT
Slipping into bad habits is my absolute forte! From morning biscuits to 12am bedtimes, I’m the first to admit that changing a routine is not easy. But being more aware of the guilt you feel and unpacking it is the first step to stop ‘shoulding’ all over yourself. Every time you feel like it’s creeping into your head, take a minute to work out if it’s a motivating ‘should’ or one that’s going to make you feel crappy about yourself.
CHANGE ‘SHOULD’ TO ‘COULD’
Such a small change but a really powerful one that totally mixes up the context, taking it from a command to something that has more options.
I COULD be further in my career… leaves the sentence hanging to make it whatever you want it to be rather than feel bad for what it should be.
… but I’ve had a lot on this year
…. so I’m going to talk to my boss about that promotion
TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF
We are so guilty of piling on the pressure, me more than anyone! But in reality, everyone’s situation and life is different therefore we have different outcomes as a result. There’s absolutely no point comparing what you have or haven’t achieved with your friend, Instagram, or society, because there are a thousand reasons why that person is where they are. Luck, skill, timing are all factors into someones story and where they may have an amazing career / life / relationship right now, it’s not to say you won’t have those things later down the road. And a social media grid isn’t a real depiction of the struggles an individual has – remember that!
So, do yourself a favour and take the pressure off. ‘Shoulding’ you way to someone else’s life will never work so remind yourself of what you have an what you’ve achieved every now and again. You’ll soon realise how fucking awesome your life actually is.
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