Stop Shoulding On Yourself.
I should go for a run. I really shouldn’t of had that slice of cake at work. I need to stop making such dumb mistakes. I should have never said that. I need to work harder, be better. I should be able to control my anxiety, I shouldn’t get so worked up. It shouldn’t be such a big deal. I should go to their birthday party, I need to be a better friend.
Have you ever found yourself saying anything like this in your mind? Or anything that begins with “I should/shouldn’t…” or “I need to/ought to”… “I must…”. If you haven’t experienced this type of self talk, I’m not sure if you’re human! (kidding of course, just slightly envious 😉 ) I think we all experience thoughts like these that roll through our minds at some point or another, some of us more so than others. For some of us, these thoughts might linger for longer too. I like to call these type of thoughts “should” statements. Basically referring to any thought that leads you to take on a misinterpretation of obligation which then leads to a negative feeling (guilty, worthless, lousy, etc.). Ex: I should go for a run, and if I don’t then I am lazy and unhealthy. Well just because I don’t go for one run I know I am not lazy or unhealthy! But when I start “should-ing” on myself I could easily spiral into thinking that. And guess what…! The more we should on ourselves the more we really begin to believe these thoughts are true! What. A. MESS!
Here’s the deal. These thoughts are false and we tend to create them in our minds. These thought processes can be self deprecating and can have a serious negative impact. Often times these thoughts will lead us into feelings of sadness (even depression), worthlessness, and doubt. They will rob us of our self-esteem and confidence if we aren’t careful. If we allow ourselves to believe these little ‘should’ then we put an enormous amount of *unnecessary and false* pressure on ourselves. So. We have a choice, continue to should on ourselves from time to time and allow them to become a mental habit that lead to negative emotions OR we can address them.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself in a little mental should-trap at least once in your life (or much more than once!). All it takes is one little should to sneak up on you and catch you off guard to lead to another, and next thing you know you’re should-ing all over the place! Sounds messy, no?! I always feel so much better when I catch these little shoulds before they become a spiral should show. Here’s my strategy to stop should-ing on your self….
Stop. Flip it. & Reverse it.
- Stop. You must be aware of your thoughts! Pay attention to them, and when you notice a should statement pop up, STOP! You might even consider shouting “stop!!” in your head. Identify this thought. Don’t judge it, just recognize it. Analyze it and consider if it is actually true, or if it’s something you have built up in your head. Perhaps you might need to journal about it, or meditate for a moment.
- Flip it! “I should go for a run” turns into “I want to go for a run”, and if so, by all means Run Forest Run! Or maybe you flop it.. “I could go for a run right now, and I feel like it would benefit me because I’m training for a marathon… but my legs are tired and I still need to accomplish some paper work. I’ll try again tomorrow”. Always show yourself grace. We are humans not robots, and although we love to think we can do it all, we just can’t! Tomorrow will lend us the opportunity to keep working toward our goals. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Reverse it! Take a couple steps back from the situation to re-evaluate. Reframe your thoughts and consider how you can reapproach the circumstances or situation positively, with grace, and with a realistic outlook.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to one of your friends or neighbors. By showing yourself kindness and grace for being human you will be able to see should statements for what they are, false and harmful! By doing this you will be able to approach your thoughts, situations, and circumstances from a place of self-love and confidence. Doesn’t that sounds lovely!? It’s achievable for you, it just takes practice. So when in doubt, stop, flip it, and reverse it. Kind of like Missy Elliott herself would say… 😉