Do you ever notice how the ‘shoulds’ creep into your life?  This seems to happen especially during the holidays.  For example, you should attend this gathering.  You should make all of those homemade treats.  You should mail out holiday greeting cards.  How do you feel when those ‘shoulds’ begin to build in your life?

The list of ‘shoulds’ could go on and on and get quite extensive during the holidays.  Sometimes its other people telling us that we should do this or that.  Often it’s you telling yourself that you should do something.  Either way this puts a lot of pressure on us to perform or be in a manner that isn’t always congruent to what we really want.

When I find the ‘shoulds’ creeping in to my life, I usually feel a bit resentful.  Other people are attempting to direct my life and not taking into consideration my own wants and needs.  Or, if it’s me telling myself that I should do something, then it’s me putting all of this extra pressure on myself.  It doesn’t surprise me that sometimes other people will try to give me extra to do without consulting me first.  However it does surprise me when I do this to myself.

What am I thinking when I get into this pattern?  The answer is that I’m thinking too much and not feeling enough.  I’m letting my mind get overactive and adding onto my own lists and I’m ignoring what my body is telling me.  Usually I’m in a state of overwhelm when this happens.  My body really wants me to let go and slow down for just a bit, but my brain jumps in and starts saying “yeah a break would be nice, but you really should cook that fabulous meal or you should fold that laundry.”

So, how do we break the pattern of putting all of those “shoulds” on ourself?   I think the first step is just being aware of what you’re doing.  If you don’t even notice that you’re doing this, then you can’t begin to avoid it or make changes.

The second step would be to notice how you feel when that list of ‘shoulds’ gets so darn long.  Is it energizing you?  Or, are you feeling weighed down by what you feel you should do?  Just taking this into account will give you a clue as to whether it’s a good idea to do some or even all of the things on that ‘should’ list.

Third, once you notice how your body feels with those ‘shoulds’, then you have choices around whether to do them or not.  Maybe you decide that some of the things are really important to you and you will figure out how to get them done.  Or, maybe you decide that some of the things really don’t matter to you now and that it’s not worth the effort to do them.  You usually do have a choice.  It’s whether you accept that there is a choice and if you do, then what choice do you make.

You can’t help it if other people want to add to your list of what you should do, but you can decide whether you’ll let them control your life with that list.  You can say no.  It’s hard but there are times when it’s just not necessary to do what someone else wants.  It’s up to you to decide.

You also may not be able to stop yourself from unintentionally getting in a pattern of telling yourself that you ‘should’ do certain things.  In this instance, what you can then do is begin to notice this pattern and then take back control.  Begin to discern whether that ‘should’ is something that really feeds your or just zaps your energy.

It’s a choice.  You get to decide about the things on your ‘should’ list.  Just follow the 3 steps as often as you need to during the holidays and let me know how it goes for you.

We’re moving this week to brand new office space in Enlighten Wellness at 880 South Pleasantburg Dr.  If you’re local, come see us at the Grand Opening, December 6th from    5 pm – 8 pm.  Meet my partners in health, enjoy some refreshments and snap up some discounts.  I look forward to seeing you there!

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