It’s the second month of a new year, which means most of us are staring longingly at the New Years resolutions we wrote only a few weeks ago, wondering how on earth the magic of a year passing hasn’t granted us all that we need to achieve our goals just yet. We still haven’t got the dream job, shifted the weight we’ve been taught to despise or fully completed our 30-day yoga challenge. The dread starts to sit in. The reality that this year will probably be an echo of the last & so on forth until we have kids that can do the same. Sound familiar?
Now stop. right. there. What you’re experiencing is not a reflection on what you have or have not achieved, what you’re experiencing is a reflection of the attitude you have towards yourself & your own standards. In this post, I want to talk more about 'should’s’, expectations we have of ourselves & how this relates to self-love.
Let start with ‘should’s’:
So what is a ‘should’ & why does it hold so much power? Well, by definition, ‘Should’ is used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticising someone's actions. So it’s an obligatory term, right? But what happens when that obligation isn’t met? I’ll tell you what happens - guilt.
“I should lose some weight” or “I should take the bins out” or “I should get this done” are all examples of ‘should’s’ that integrate into our daily lives without a second thought. However, they impact us so much more then we realise.
Each of these statements bares expectation for us as individuals in our day-to-day, meaning that if these tasks aren’t completed, we don’t feel as though we’ve done our bit. We haven’t achieved enough to pay our rent for being on this planet. But you have. No matter what you’ve done today, you have done enough. The guilt that comes as a result of this ironically only breeds unproductive, unhappy thoughts, feelings & behaviours & the cycle continues.
As a life coach, I love goal setting, I’m all about it. I love lists & milestones & plans galore. But you know what I also love? Existing. Breathing. Being. When we alleviate ourselves of the guilt this words bares & exercise self-compassion & patience, we actually allow ourselves to be more productive, not because we have to or our world will collapse, but because we are happy enough to. So challenge your ‘should’s’! You ‘should know how to drive by now’? Says who? You ‘should stop eating crap’? Why? Of course, these things are important, but if there is an option for it to not happen, then it probably means it won’t be the end of the world if it doesn’t. Conducting a ‘should audit’, as I call it, can be the first step in not only being more accepting of yourself, but it helps brings awareness to what you would actually like to work on too. Limit yourself to a certain amount of ‘should’s a day, or start by simply bringing awareness to ‘should’s' that you could leave out of your day.
In our culture, we also have a habit of associating certain ages with milestones & heavy expectations, like having a car by the time we’re 20, a life partner by the time we’re 30, kids by 35 & for what? For us to live mundane, over-structured lives? You are doing the world a service just by being alive & doing yourself a service by living in a fluid, organic fashion, at your own pace. You don’t owe any age or anyone any ‘achievement’.
Everything you feel about yourself or the point you’re at right now is a reflection of standards that society has put in place. Our ‘social ladders’ are nothing but a reflection of the guilt based advertising we experience daily, telling us to slightly improve one thing, but also indulge in another thing, whilst insisting that everyone else is improving, you guessed it another thing. To set your own standards & to learn to validate the space you are in RIGHT NOW is truly a radical act, but one that will support your growth & well being beyond belief.
I’ve said it once & I’ll say it again. You don’t owe the world anything.