I was feeling horrible, like I was carrying a big load of bricks. My bricks were my to-do list that basically consisted of a long list of things I should do.
I should get my house a lot cleaner. I should go to bed earlier. I should drink more water. I should give presents to everyone I know. I should call people more often. I should finish the dozens of projects I’ve started. I should do homemade Christmas presents. I should . . .
You get the idea.
“Should” is not a good concept. It’s criticism of yourself before you have even done anything. What a horrible way to think of your life. You’ve basically failed before you’ve even started.
I think it’s way of a shaming yourself, or trying to motivate through shame. Shame isn’t good. Shame is saying, “I’m a bad person. I’m a failure.” It’s attaching your self-worth entirely to specific actions, focusing particularly on mistakes.
Once I realized what I was doing, I stopped. I tried to replace all the should statements with alternatives: I want to do this. Or I will do this. I chose to do this. I have actual reasons behind doing this.
Or simply, I don’t need to do that right now and so I’m not going to worry about it.
I got more done. I was more excited to do things because I was doing them for good reasons, instead out of shame and criticism.
Life got a whole lot happier.
If you think, “I should . . .” take a moment to take out the criticism and ask yourself why you have the thing on your mind. Is it because of your own self-imposed expectations that don’t really have a reason? Because of expectations of others? Is it because you really like to do it? Is it because it will make you feel better?
Stop using shame as a reason to do things.
Hopefully that can help someone out there.