Do you ever get sucker punched by the word should?
Do you ever should all over yourself?
Saying things like, “I should eat right. I should exercise. I should play more. I should meditate. I should be nice.”
Lately, I’ve found myself shoulding all over myself, and personally, I’m at a point where I think the word “should” needs to be banned from the English language!
Recently, I’ve stepped into a new position as the Director of WIC (Women Infants & Children), a federally-funded program that provides food vouchers and nutrition education to low-income moms and their growing babies.
I’m really excited about it. I’ve worked for this organization in the past, (it was my very 1st job as a nutritionist!), and of all my previous jobs I really loved this one the most. It stands out as a favorite because of what we provide to the local community. So to be back and in a position that can create real change has me thrilled.
However, the word should is draining me of my joy. This new position is an adjustment. I’m not just a nutritionist this time, but I’m now running the entire clinic and managing a staff of employees. I’m back at a 9-5 after working for myself full-time for the past several years and the early mornings are exhausting. I’ve got to think about my outfit every morning, where I used to have the “luxury” of wearing jeans or yoga pants all day if I wanted to. And, the commute, which used to be from my bedroom to my office, is now a 20-30 minute nightmare on some days.
Yet, instead of honoring, acknowledging and processing these changes, the word “should” has me bypassing all of that. I de-value my emotions and feelings by cutting them off with the blanket should statement: “I should be grateful for the offer. I should be grateful to work at a place I love.” Both of those things are true, but they are not exclusive. I can be grateful AND triggered by the transition.
So, I’m choosing to take “should” out of my vocabulary. I’m choosing to give myself the opportunity to process how I feel – the positive emotions and the negative ones. They are not good or bad. That is a label that society has placed on emotions to compartmentalize our life and feel in control. The truth is that the labels make me feel less in control. So, I’m dropping the label.
I love this new opportunity, this new position, working with this organization again. And, I feel exhausted by the early mornings and the effort to get ready and the times I have to sit in traffic on my commute. I also honor the fact that sometimes I feel like a failure for taking this (BIG) position instead of continuing to push forward with my coaching business.
The crazy thing is that when I’m able to shed light on these emotions and really claim them for what they are, their power over me – their ability to make me feel ashamed or guilty or like a failure – lessens. Because what I realize as I really sit with these emotions is that they stem from the fear of transition and newness.
When I worked for myself, I always wished I had more structure in my days. My new position gives me a container to make that really possible, because what I know about me is that I value my freedom, but TOO MUCH of it just isn’t a good thing. Also, I would experience body shame when I spent the day in my yoga pants, because every time I caught my reflection in the mirror I would judge myself and my evident muffin top. Now, I have the opportunity to make the commute what I want. I can listen to affirmations or my favorite personal development audiobook, all of which helps me start my day on a positive note.
Sure. I still have my off moments. But, as I consciously choose to extract the word “should” from my vocabulary, I find I’m more compassionate with myself and others. I’m happier within myself, allowing me to show up in a better mood for others.
I’m curious to hear from you. What role do shoulds play in your life? What can you do to honor, acknowledge and process your feelings instead of shoulding them into a dark corner of shame?