A couple of weekends ago, I found myself lying on our living room couch, dealing with the debilitating nausea that comes with pregnancy, while also in tears. It was a beautiful sunny day, and my husband was outside working in the yard, while I was inside feeling sorry for myself.
Inside my head were thoughts like:
I tried the mind over matter trick and went outside to help my husband for all of about 15 minutes before I was back on the couch, with my legs curled up, hoping not to vomit on our living room carpet, or our dog. My husband came in shortly thereafter to check on me. When I lamented my sad state, and all my “shoulds,” he gave me a hug and reminded me that I was working really hard—that I was actually growing a human being inside of me!
As the day progressed, I found myself still on the couch, unable to beat the nausea away with my mind, or even a large baguette of French bread. Eventually I succumbed to the realities of what was, and you know what happened? I actually had a really great day! Despite the fact that I couldn’t do anything “productive,” I ended up reading the most amazing book, a book that I was about to return to the library unread, and probably never would have remembered to check out again.
When I finally let go of what I thought I was supposed to do, and pushed all those “shoulds” to the side, I enjoyed myself immensely. The guilt disappeared, the heartache and sadness vanished, my tears dried up, and I actually found myself laughing out loud during certain parts of the book. I was able to let go of needing to do something, and could just be. It felt so liberating, and I wasn’t even on vacation!
As I was reflecting on this moment, I kept thinking back to other moments in my life when my “shoulds” took over and tried to direct me where to go and what to do. In each of those cases I can remember being pretty miserable. The same goes for when I “should” on other people.
When I am constantly “shoulding” myself, and “shoulding” those around me, I can never be happy to just be. Things are not enough. Things should be better. Instead of living in the moment, I am living in some unreality. Instead of embracing what is, I am stuck on what I hope to be. I am left feeling bleak and depressed.
Another example of why I shouldn’t should myself, and you probably shouldn’t either :)