Yeah, I know you’re all Enlightened and stuff and you don’t use the word Should. Me neither.
And you don’t compare yourself to others. And you know that where you are is exactly where you’re meant to be. Yeah, me too.
Enlightenment aside, play along with me. Are you totally satisfied with what you’ve accomplished so far? No little part of you thinks, Maybe I should have been a guest on Oprah by now?
- I’m supposed to have nice luggage and own a home with guest rooms by now.
- Maybe my kids are supposed to be better at sharing by now.
- By now, I should be making a real salary, be a person who exercises everyday, have decent insurance, not have an entry level job.
Holy shit, I have thoughts like these all the time. Not those exactly, but ones like them. Like, I should totally be a regular correspondent on Good Morning America by now. I’m not even kidding about that, either. I should. By now. I should be getting close to it, negotiating the details at least.
And I can’t believe I still live in the city, and I still eat so much junk food, and I’m not more of an expert in my field, and I still don’t write all that well, and I get jealous, and I don’t have more money saved, and I’m totally immature sometimes.
That’s just scratching the surface. From someone who doesn’t say Should or Supposed to and knows that everything is perfect.
So, unless you all respond to my survey saying it’s just me, I’ll assume it’s you, too. At least some of the time, you might wonder why you’re not excelling at life as much as you could be.
Since it’s such a human issue, can we just make a pact to collectively stop shoulding all over ourselves?
Here are some ideas for how we might make it easier to stop:
1. When you notice that you’re holding yourself to these standards, drop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. (I’m serious about this).
2. Remind yourself that the standards aren’t objective or real. You invented them and you’re the only one holding yourself to them. It’s totally within your power to keep doing it or to stop.
3. Eat a piece of chocolate (without guilt, by the way. If giving yourself treats makes you feel guilty, skip this step). Or get a massage. Or put in Airplane! or go to YouTube and find something to laugh at.
4. Remember you read this official survey revealing that everyone most likely almost everyone feels this way. It’s not just you. And we can’t all be right.
5. Keep in mind that if what you’re telling yourself doesn’t feel good, it’s most likely a lie. Don’t worry—that doesn’t make you a liar, it just makes you a perfectly normal human who believes too many painful and unnecessary thoughts.
6. Look for lessons in the supposed “mistakes” you’ve made. Why hasn’t Good Morning America called me yet? No self-blame, no self-judgment, but if there was something I could do differently, what might it be? And why am I still living in the city, anyway? What can I learn from that?
If you’re gonna be dissatisfied, you might as well learn something from it.
Look at it this way: maybe our chronic fear of failing at life is a good sign. What if someone said to you, “I never thought I had the wherewithal to make it past 25”. Or, “I’m way ahead of where I should be…must be luck!”
As much as it sucks at times, I take it as a sign of self-love to believe that you deserve good stuff. You care enough to shame yourself over not having what you know you’re capable of.
Now let’s try just the self-love without the shaming part.