How to Avoid Becoming a Slave to the SHOULDS in Your Life
Do you live with a perpetual laundry list of SHOULDS?
You know the list:
– I SHOULD take my kids to a museum every weekend.
– I SHOULD visit my aging mother at least twice a week.
– I SHOULD clean out the garage, bathe the dogs, do my daughter’s hair, clean the microwave, take Jimmy to soccer practice, pick up my husband’s dry-cleaning, bake cupcakes for Susie’s Easter party…
SHOULDS are exhausting. You know what else? SHOULDS are never-ending. They’re also crippling when you allow them to engulf your entire existence.
You probably know this not only from your own experience, but from watching your parents or caretakers become slaves to the SHOULDS in their lives. Overworking themselves to the bone just so the world around them was all taken care of. Trying to avoid the shame and guilt they felt when they said “no” to the SHOULDS that overwhelmed them?
But who took care of them?
And more importantly, who took care of YOU?
Who takes care of you now?
When giving to others starts to cripple your happiness and joy, you receive signals from your body that you’re doing too much. It can manifest as irritability, sadness, loneliness, unexplained anger, and more.
Where once your reserves of happiness overflowed, you find that the pump has run dry, and everyone else has had a drink but you. That emptiness in your gut doesn’t feel like you because everything that makes you YOU has been depleted.
Your energy is sacred, dear. Oh-so-sacred. Not honoring your needs can lead you down a path of negative self-talk, depression, and countless other ailments. That’s why SELF-CARE is incredibly important.
How to lean into SELF-CARE to avoid the SHOULDS, and make it a part of your healing TODAY!
MAKE A PLAN
Create a list of three ACTIONS you can take to show yourself some love and care. For example, I love, love, love doing a skin care regimen every morning. It’s an act that allows me to show myself the type of care that brings me peace and joy. It’s all about me and MY NEEDS, which is perfectly okay. Maybe you love dancing, gardening, taking walks in the park. Whatever it is that makes your heart thump with happiness, write it down!
HONOR YOUR FEELINGS
If you feel something, it’s real. If it’s real, it deserves your time and attention. Honor your feelings, even when they don’t include happiness and joy. Your sadness, your anger, your frustration? They all deserve to be acknowledged. In doing so, you give yourself the space to be fully present in your being; and when you take away the judgment and shame, greeting your feelings gives them the freedom to visit, and then peacefully exit. Because here’s the truth: they won’t stop knocking until you’ve opened the door. So give them a glass a water, ask them to have a seat, listen to them, make them feel better, and then thank them for their visit. Your feelings are important!
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Your body is your greatest tool for healing. It’s this wonderful machine that sends you messages about what the heck is going down with your emotions. If you feel extremely tired, irritable, grumpy, or short-tempered, your body’s SOUNDING THE ALARMS. Listen to it. Your body is your guide, and it’s like a child. If a child were cranky, wouldn’t you give it a nap? Withholding what your body, mind, and spirit need is cruel. We’re not being cruel with ourselves anymore, are we? Nope, we are LOVING the heck out of ourselves!
MAKE “NO” YOUR BEST FRIEND
You are not the captain of others’ emotional ships. You cannot control how they feel, how they felt in the past, or how they will feel in the future. You cannot control if they’ll like your or not. All you can control is who and what you allow into your life. So why not only allow things that make you feel good?
Nowhere in the book of life does it say that we are required to say “yes” to every request, invitation, or favor that comes our way.
Saying “no” is not a crime, and you are NOT a criminal.
What is a crime is not loving and caring for yourself? So make “no” your very best friend when asked to do something you really don’t want to do. You have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else.
REPLACE THE CRITIC WITH KINDNESS
That nagging inner voice that criticizes you every time you don’t fulfill a SHOULD? That voice is a big MEANIE. You might call it your pride, your guilt, your shame, but ultimately you have the power to control what it says. Pretty cool, huh? That voice wants to keep you self-sacrificing and drowning. But you can replace that critic with a kind voice instead. Approach yourself with love every time you catch your critic.
Turn “You’re such a terrible daughter for not dropping everything to help your mom!” to “My dear, you are doing the very best you can. You’re a wonderful daughter, but today you have to feed your own soul, and that’s okay.” Doesn’t that just feel so nice?! Try it out, you’ll start to re-condition your thought patterns in no time!
ASK FOR HELP
You are NOT everyone’s superhero. You didn’t sign up for that, and no one around you should expect that from you. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: it takes a village. Not only to raise a child, but keep a community sane! We are all here to love and support one another, so when the going gets rough, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your pride might keep you from asking, but imagine that child again. If a child asked you for help, would you turn him or her away? Why should it be any different for you?
Be kind to yourselves, my loves. These changes take time. You won’t accomplish them overnight, but with patience and practice, you’ll establish a self-care routine that elevates your joy and wellbeing.