Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda..... The truth about choice

Ever get stuck on the word 'should'?

You know - I should do some exercise. I should phone my friend. I should eat some spinach.

And then the word 'must'... I must sort out my filing, I must pay attention. I must pay the bill.

The definition (according to the online dictionary) of the word 'should':

used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency.

And 'must':

be obliged to; should (expressing necessity)

You feel some sort of obligation to do something. But who do you feel obligated to? Yourself? Your future self? What about your self in the very now?

And then the other versions; I shouldn't.... I mustn't...

This concept came to me a number of years ago. I was a single mother, trying to balance a number of things; money, working, mothering, studying - running a household. The 'shoulds' in my life were driving me crazy; my house should be tidier, I really should paint the house, I should make more of an effort to get to work on time, I should be eating better, I shouldn't eat two minute noodles (yes yes), I should go for a walk, I shouldn't speak to my daughter that way... etc etc etc. I was swimming in 'shoulds' and feeling overwhelmed and almost incapacitated. I should be better, kinder, give more, be more, do more, see more, learn more. I should! I should!! It was paralyising.

One day, I got a very big piece of paper and I wrote down all the 'shoulds'. I stared at it for a while . I drew myself in among it all - feeling totally overwhelmed and confused. And them it hit me. Remove the words 'I should' and change it to 'I choose to'.

The relief was almost instant.  I felt strangely empowered - even if I was choosing to do something that I believed was 'wrong' at the time. I cancelled all the 'should's. I wrote 'I choose', 'I choose to get the house painted', 'I choose to be kinder' or even 'I choose to eat two minute noodles this evening'.

And then - 'I choose not to study at this time'. 'I choose not to go for a walk'. 'I choose to not speak to my child this way any more.'

Vrroooommmm! Can you see the change in energy??? Totally different. No longer paralysed by indecision and fear. But fully in control! What a difference. I can choose to do this! And if I choose to do this, I then can decide when, where and how I might do this. I choose to get the house painted - but not now. I choose to put that off until next month. Boom.

'Should' is a word that can induce guilt, make our minds confused, throw us into dilemmas. The question is not 'should you', the question is; 'do you choose to, or don't you'?

It's time to let the word go. It's superfluous. It keeps us stuck.

Change the I should to: I choose.

"I should go for a walk"becomes "I choose to go for a walk" or "I choose not to go for a walk".

"I should eat a salad" will become "I choose to eat a salad" or "I choose not to eat a salad" or "I choose to eat a meat pie".

And if it's an emotion. thought or feeling that you feel you should or shouldn't have - you better accept that it is there. "I shouldn't cry" becomes "I am crying". "I shouldn't feel sad" becomes "I feel sad". Own it. Own it, take care of it. Treasure it.

It's your choice. Taking away the 'should' puts you in the drivers seat. You are in control. Once you realise you are choosing (and you are!) to eat salad, go for a walk, eat a meat pie or acknowledging that you are sad, crying, angry - you own it. You are totally responsible. And chances are when it comes to making choices - you stop pretending that things just happen - you acknowledge that you participated in making an active choice.

Stop tripping yourself up on guilt! Let the 'should' go.

I should be happy, I should smile, I should be supermom. Either you choose to, or you don't!

Go conquer the world, not because you should - but because you choose to. :-)

One Life pansy