Beware: The “S” Word!

Posted by: on Aug 19, 2014 | No Comments

image“What should I eat for lunch?”

“What should I have said when he asked me out?”

“What should I do on my day off?”

The word “should” is incredibly pervasive in our inner dialogues.  At the heart of “should” is the belief that there’s a RIGHT way and a WRONG way.  When we believe that, we are set up to struggle because our focus is outside ourselves–attempting to figure out the answer externally.  Whether we learned that from critical parents, school, challenging siblings, or peers, it is our practice to UNLEARN it. We need to reconnect with the internal wisdom that is our birthright.

When I was in college and searching for answers about how to deal with my own anxiety, I began reading a lot of books on meditation and mindfulness.  The words of Jack Kornfield and Pema Chodron were a soothing balm to my struggles, but in practice I found little comfort in meditation and mindfulness. Later on in graduate school I remember one of my first meditation groups where I sat in a circle with the other students–sullen and disconnected.  At some point my teacher asked me what was going on and I burst into tears, “I can’t stand the word present!  Be present! Be present! That’s all these books say and I just can’t do it!” I cried. It was then that I really learned how self-aggression can take on spiritual and loving-seeming disguises.  My ego-self was trying so hard to do being present right, that I was locked into my own pain and judgment.  I thought, “I should be peaceful. I should be relaxed. I should be wise. I should be spiritual.” …and then I was able to be anything but.

It is only by letting go of the shoulds that we can get in touch with the coulds; with the opportunities we have to let go, to open, to melt, to warm, to flow, to listen, to hear.

Next time you hear yourself “shoulding,” try this instead:

Take 3 deep breaths.

Change “should” to “could.”

…and see what answers you find in your body when you present yourself with the chance to “could.”  Do you feel drawn to the idea?  Does it feel kind?  Does it feel loving? Do you get a NO? Be responsive to yourself as you are in this moment.

With Love,