We want to be in charge of our lives and our decisions. And we are. Sort of. But are we unknowingly giving some of that power away? Notice your thought process today. Does it include the following?
- I should do x,y,z….and a,b, and c
- I should have thought of that!
- I should have seen that coming!
- I must be perfect in my interactions today (everyone I meet should think I'm smart, competent, enjoyable to be around, etc.)
- I must make sure my child is always happy
- I have to make sure my project is perfect
How do you feel? Like there’s a taskmaster telling you it’s never enough? That what you did was not good enough?
The “shoulds” that were originally there to help you have taken over.
Why did we let them do that?
It was probably a calculation that if we gave the “shoulds” more power, then in exchange we could see ourselves as more productive people, model employees, parents-of-the-year, etc. Or we simply thought that we were using the “shoulds” as a tool to motivate ourselves to get things accomplished. We didn't realize that they would take over.
How do we take that power back?
- The power to choose reasonable expectations for ourselves and others.
- The power to choose compassion and understanding.
- The power to pursue balance rather than productivity.
The way to regain power:
Begin to embrace the idea that it is better to be human with all its foibles than to be perfect. Changing our thought process is one way to embrace this new way of being. Try replacing the constant demands with more realistic language. Let’s see what happens if we change our thoughts just a bit...
- It's important to get x,y,z done today. I would also like to accomplish a,b, and c if I have time.
- It would have been nice if I had thought of that beforehand. Since I didn’t, what can I do now to address it?
- It would have been nice to be able to predict that, but I’m not omniscient. What can I do to deal with it now?
- I will be present in my interactions rather than obsessing about the impression I'm making.
- I will take good care of my kids, but I won’t beat myself up if they're not always happy.
- I will work as hard as I can on that project in the time I have and accept the result.
How does that feel? I hope it feels like you are regaining some power and perspective in your life. It takes time and practice, but it will become more and more natural. Give it a try today, and tomorrow, and the next day...