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The art of ‘not shoulding’
(Read this if you want to be unfairly productive)
When was the last time you ‘shoulded?’
And don’t be embarrassed. We all ‘should.’
It’s just that some of us do it more than most, and it is likely hurting you.
I should go to the gym.
I should socialise more because I’ve been sitting indoors on my butt, watching movies back to back for months.
I should cook for myself more and stop ordering processed Uber crap.
Why do we do this?
Because it’s good for us, right?
We do it out of a sense of self-care and genuine concern for self-improvement and massive success!
It’s how we attempt to exert some control over our chaotic lives.
But entertaining thoughts of how we should be doing things differently rarely feels good.
It’s a form of self-beratement that is felt as frustration, stress and even despair.
It’s establishing where you think you need to be without actually being there yet - while judging yourself for not being there yet.
It’s a black thought.
A self-generated heaviness surrounds the idea that you shouldn’t be where you are right now.
But shouldn’t I ‘should’ so that I do life better?
Don’t I need to worry and judge and self-criticise so that I push myself into doing things I need to do?
Won’t my life improve that way?
You’re more likely to make yourself more stressed and less effective this way.
How can life improve if we’re stewing in stress?
When we apply a should to a potential task, we’re framing it as a difficult one we don’t want to do. We reinforce our desire to avoid the said activity.
All this pressure to do stuff ironically detaches us from doing things with enthusiasm.
So, if thinking we ‘should’ do things makes us less effective, even lazier, what do we do?
We simply need to stop ‘shoulding.’
The best way to ‘not should’ is to do something, anything, instead.
Do what you identified as necessary, or do something else entirely for now, if you can’t get to it.
Just don’t get lost in your torrent of shoulding thoughts.
Action is the polar opposite of stewing on what we should do.
Action gets us out of our heads.
When we’re out of our heads, we’re more intelligent because intelligence always arises out of movement, a lack of pressure, and a stiller mind.
Sometimes thoughts will come up that remind us of what’s important to do.
Like going to the gym. That thought was effortless. But cycling through how you should go to the gym is an unnecessary addendum to this thought. Let go.
Put the gym in your calendar alerts and get back to doing what you were doing.
The art of ‘not shoulding’ is about not overthinking and not stewing.
It’s about enjoying each moment by moment regardless of what else is going on out there.
It’s about having faith that everything is - and will be - OK.
That’s how to set yourself apart from the stewing masses.
What would your life be like if it were devoid of shoulds and unnecessary self-inflicted pressure?
Your self-compassion would become more of a thing.
When we feel better about ourselves, guess what happens?
We do more; we do the things that are right for us, and we do it better.
If you enjoyed the above, you’ll love my book: ‘Illusory,’ which shows you how to move past mentally-created self-limits.
If you’d like to speak with me for an hour to help overcome your number 1 challenge, let’s talk.
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