This seemingly harmless word has caused me so much anxiety over the past few months that I’ve banned it from my vocabulary and ironically, you should too.
Let me tell you why.
The world we live in today is fast paced. No matter who you are, where you live, what you do as a job or how old you are, there are societal pressures that dictate what we should be doing with our time and what our lives should look like. Unless you recluse to some secluded village deep in the Himalayas where the internet doesn’t even have a blip on the radar, it’s hard to get away from these ‘shoulds’.
And even if you are able to escape, there’s this constant voice in your head of what you think you should be doing and your own expectations of how you should be spending your time.
Even as I write this post I realise how prominent that word is.
I have high expectations of myself and I’m sure that you do too. I have this incessant need to always be doing something that is bettering me as a person and helping me learn and grow. Now, that’s not a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s an amazing quality to have but for me, it’s not society that projects these pressures on me. It’s myself and my own expectations which ends up causing me this stress and to be quite frank, it’s running me into the ground.
This phenomenon has become quite prominent in my life since I had surgery and haven’t been able to do many of the things I should be doing. And it’s only since I’ve been forced to stop and rest have I realised how much pressure we put on ourselves and how much we beat ourselves up on a daily basis because we don’t think we are good enough.
And it all stems from the dirty word, ‘should’.
Because I’m currently in forced rest, I have this persistent voice in my head telling me I should be doing things.
I should go for a 10km walk because I can’t do anything at the gym.
I should revert back to my restrictive ways and eat 100% clean because I can’t move as much and I can’t get fat.
I should look and feel the way I did prior to surgery.
I should write every single night because I have more time on my hands.
I shouldn’t go out for dinner or have that drink because I’m supposed to be eating healthy.
I should start an online course to make the most use of my time.
I should be able to read a book a week.
I should go back to the gym after 2 weeks post op.
I should look like the women I see on social media.
I should look perfect ALL of the time.
I should be the best at everything I do.
I should be the best friend, to all of my friends.
I should be the best partner they have ever had and never slip up.
I should be the perfect housewife.
I should work late so I can exceed.
I should be happy and positive all of the time.
I should know what I want to do with my life.
I should always be motivated and feel passionate.
I should be a health guru and drink matcha and eat vegan and never touch sugar.
These should’s are the most consistent one’s that run through my head on a DAILY BASIS. Every single day I have these thoughts and to be entirely honest, most of the time I live up to them. Most of the time, because the shoulds are so incredibly loud in my head, I oblige. And yeah, most of the time I feel good about listening to them. And sometimes, life happens that doesn’t permit you to follow these shoulds.
But when these shoulds have a grounded place in your mind, that’s a lot to live up to & a lot of shortcomings if you don’t follow through.
The amount of should’s that run through my mind recently have seriously caused consistent heart palpitations & a sensation that feels what I imagine it would be like to constantly be on drugs. Not in a good way, but in a way where I feel like I might have a heart attack and my mind is racing a million times an hour; from one topic to the next, from one focus point to another, from one task to the next all in the space of .5 of a second.
We need to allow ourselves to say no, take a step back, and listen to what we WANT to do and what our bodies or hearts are asking us to do.
What we SHOULD be doing, is allowing ourselves to not be a perfect human every second of every day.
We should be listening to our bodies and allowing ourselves to take time out if we feel we need it.
We should accept that no one is happy and motivated all of the time.
We should sleep an extra hour if we are tired.
We should let ourselves to just sit without the need to be doing something.
We should realise that sometimes moving forward means taking 2 steps back.
We should allow ourselves to go out and have a few too many drinks with friends.
We should accept that we make mistakes.
So, the word should has been minimised from my daily use and I’m allowing myself to repair, rest and do what I want to, instead of what I should do. And recently, that has been more of the things I typically ‘shouldn’t’ be doing, then what I should.