What Our List of "Shoulds" Can Teach Us About Happiness
Updated: Jul 12, 2022
I intended to write a blog for the 4th of July about how to get more freedom from the horrible thoughts in our own minds that we believe but that HURT!
But I was tired. I didn’t have the energy, motivation, or the ability to put together the thoughts as I sat down to write.
So, I didn’t do it. I felt awful about this because I believed that I SHOULD have done it for various reasons. (Does anyone notice any irony…) Anyway, I mentioned this to a coach friend and she said, “Oh, you could write about how you didn’t do your “should” and it was all ok.”
Hmm… she’s right. I didn’t do the “should” on my list for reasons of self-care and that was a good thing. AND I feel like it fits right in with the freedom from our thoughts idea. The idea that I HAD to write an email when I was clearly too tired and busy was just one more way in which my mind was trying to keep me trapped which is the opposite of freedom.
Boy our minds are sneaky. Mine even had me believing that I HAD to do something while under the guise of sharing my idea about the ways that we can feel true freedom when we identify and disentangle from thoughts that feel bad and aren’t even true!
So what to do. Well, how about we start at the beginning – with awareness. How does your body feel after thinking a thought? If it feels bad in any way – contracted, anxious, heavy, then that thought is not true for you. I know it really, really seems true. Our minds will convince us that it is true. But it isn’t. Our bodies react to lies like they are poison. So, if it feels bad, it’s not true for you!
I know this is a radical shift from how we normally move through the world. At least it was for me. It has been a long process for me to get to this new way of thinking. Initially I wasn’t even really aware that I had thoughts. I was just emersed IN the thought.
But once I started becoming aware of thoughts, and their effect on me (and my body,) I started to ask the question, “Is that true?” So many years and much inner work later I am now convinced that if a thought feels bad it is not true for me. I still have to work to REALLY know that because those thoughts are soooo convincing but that is my practice now. To question my thoughts.
But for now maybe just noticing them is enough. No need to do anything about it. That can come later. First, we need to catch these untruths. Because they are tricksters.
I hope that you are able to catch some of the “shoulds” that you really, really think you need to do but you don’t want to. Maybe you can even scratch them off your list all together or better yet replace them with something that fills you with joy instead.
How I become aware of thoughts that don’t serve me:
1. I notice when negative sensations pop up in my body
2. I reflect on what I was I thinking right before I noticed the sensation
3. Then I put that thought in the category of something that my mind is believing that isn’t true for me – or at least I try to be open to the possibility that that thought isn’t true for me
4. That’s it – just creating an awareness and being open to the possibility that the thought might not be true is HUGE.
If you would like help spotting out thoughts that are not serving you let me know! It’s so much easier to have a trained non-judgement ear when you’re starting, and I have many tools I can share.