By Liz McGrory
You should make more time for yourself.
You should wake up at 5am to exercise.
You should have a memory box for each child which includes every detail of their life starting with the hospital identification wrist band they wore as a new born.
Sigh. We are not perfect. Why is it that we attempt to fulfill all the “shoulds” that the world throws at us?
Byron Katie said it best in her book, Loving What Is:
In reality, there is no such thing as a “should” or a “shouldn’t.” These are only thoughts that we impose onto reality.
Where reality is concerned, there is no “what should be.” There is only what is, just the way it is, right now.
Katie is saying all that matters is what is true. All that matters is reality, not our thoughts about it.
I love this because it frees me from feeling guilty!
Guilt can be brought on by the “should” game. Should working moms feel guilty? For example: I “should” be home with my child. I “shouldn’t” be counting the minutes until bed time. This game causes so much internal chatter that guilt erupts.
I learned to live a “should-free” life by removing the word “should” from my vocabulary. Why agonize and use up my Mommy Energy by believing I “should” be doing something?
If the “should” is something I really want to do, then I will do it. I’ll make a goal out of it. I’ll put it in a different context so that it is no longer a “should”, but it is a need or a want. I want to wake up at 5AM to exercise. I will make the memory box. Now instead of guilt I feel motivation, excitement, and joy.
Here’s how I prioritize my list of “shoulds”:
- What is the truth?
- Where did this “should” come from?
- What does my heart say about this “should”?
- Do I have the energy to accomplish this “should” and turn it into a goal?
Here’s an example:
In October, I will run my first half marathon. I’ve done a few 5Ks before my third child so this is a stretch goal for me. A friend of mine and I are doing it together and so far it’s been fun, exciting, but it’s a bit nerve wracking (13.1 miles! EEEE!!).
So the “should” that I struggle with is “I should wake up at 5AM to run.”
1. What is the truth?
The truth is this is the most convenient time for me to run. Although I “could” run later on in the afternoon, but I love to start my day like this. Another truth is some nights I’m stay up late working so waking up early is a struggle.
2. Where did this “should” come from?
The “should” comes from the bit of pressure I’ve place on myself to run a half marathon. I’ve made my “should” about exercising into a goal. So this is the REAL deal!!
3. What does my heart say about this “should”?
My heart says to me, “You can do this. You signed up for this half marathon for many reasons. #1 – You did it for you. You want to be fitter. You want to say you ran a half marathon! #2 – You did this for your kids. They will love going to the ocean to see you cross the finish line. Their excitement is your motivation. “Mommy ran in a race! You did it!” you’ll hear them say.
4. Do I have the energy to accomplish this “should” and turn it into a goal?
I DO have the energy to turn this should into a goal. I believe it’s the fear of the unknown that holds me back at times, but I’ll just take one day at a time. I’ll envision the finish line. My friend and I created a private Facebook group to keep pushing ourselves, so I’ll visit that prior to each run to check in and say “I’m doing it! Are you?” I’ll do it because I love myself and because I love my friend. Power in numbers!
I will also change this “should” statement to: I will run once a day. This way it frees me from feeling guilt when I hit the snooze button because I know, that at some point during the day, I WILL run.
So I’d love to hear from you! What “should” travels through your mind? Put it to the test with the steps above and leave a comment down below. I’d love to hear all about it!
Liz is a Certified Professional Coach who coaches Working Moms to overcome their Motherhood Transition Challenges (MTC). She was voted Rookie Coach of the Year in 2013 by the International Coach Federation New England Chapter. Liz is also a professional blogger and speaker. She writes and speaks about MTCs such as returning from maternity leave, igniting your Mommy Energy, and career advancement.
Liz’s love for writing, creativity, and helping others fueled her passion to be an author. Liz first book, Igniting Mommy Energy, released on the first day of summer in 2014. It’s available exclusively on Amazon.com.