What do I do in those situations when I feel dismissed, unheard, or other negative feelings and beliefs triggered by comparing myself to others, or negative feedback? My past self would be overly polite, while my value shrinks silently inside. I would have allowed my boundaries to be crossed, telling myself, “I should be appreciative that I was even given their time.” I probably would have told myself I “should” be more interesting and “should” only bring something to a conversation worth stating.
My present self knows to trust myself to bring a resolution that is appropriate for me. I am reminded that I am not responsible for someone’s reaction or response to me. Not being seen or heard means nothing of who I am, nothing about my being, my person, or my worth.
Recently I had the pleasure of a conversation with two people who are a positive influence in my life.
My intent for the conversation was to reach an understanding of my questions, “How do we become aware of our unawareness that we are not trusting and believing in our goodness, our abilities, and worth? That question fell in line with another question I had been pondering for several days. “What can we do to replace the thoughts and feelings that surround should?”
These questions came to me after I recognized I had been unusually hard on myself after I chose in a moment of unawareness, which created long-term uncomfortable consequences. I began to recognize the word “should” was repeatedly entering my thoughts and self-talk with statements such as, “I should be more careful. I should be grateful. I should be better off financially. I should work harder. I should try harder. It was exhausting.
Should does not give me the choice of what’s right, good, or appropriate for me. An example of appropriate or good choices for me I frequently told myself in my past abusive relationships were that I should stick around, I should work this out, I should be more tolerant, maybe I should be more empathetic and accepting, maybe I should try and understand my partner. Those shoulds were inappropriate and harmful to me and my children. I know now they were coming from a voice of my inner critic (the past) whose advice was usually, “you should just work it out and deal with it.” Being good as a child meant doing what you were told and it was based on shoulds, not a choice.
My friend Erica Jayne had this to say about the effects of “should” on her life.
“Speaking of should, I spent a great majority of my life operating from a place of should based on what I perceived to be normal to be good. A lot of it was what I thought goodness was and seeing an otherness in myself that I thought meant I was not good and that I needed to change or to hide or you know, somehow adjust myself. And a big part of the identity crisis that I was dealing with was I felt for a long time that there was an expectation or lots of expectations placed on me about who I was supposed to be. I felt like everything in my life and everyone in my life was telling me this is what is expected of you. You are supposed to be this person. You should be this way. And there was a lot of that identity that I didn’t resonate with. I didn’t want to be that person.”
It’s this idea that we don’t want to be the person that we believe is being driven by should. Our awareness turns to how we can remove this from our lives.
Erica also stated, “I’m only experiencing the world through my filters and perception. And so, that has freed me so much from the concept of should; but to try to change yourself or just who you are or how you are according to what you think other people think is appropriate, is never going to work really in the end. It’s never going to be appropriate only for you because they are experiencing the world through their own filters, and what might be appropriate and right and good for them may not be appropriate for you.”
This is key: choosing to do what is appropriate for us, and only for us.
Syl Sabastian offered his thoughts and insight on how paying attention to our habits of self-talk can assist with awareness of what we are unaware of.
“How many times ever do we say ah, you know, I’m such a numbskull. I’m such a worry. But, well, you know, that’s a habit. We don’t think twice about it. We just take it for granted but when we really pay attention to this, what are we unaware of? We are unaware of the consequences of such statements. Right? Yeah. And those statements lock us into this mindless loop, which we don’t want. So when we start to pay attention to the habit of how we say things automatically, oh my goodness, how many times have you not asked a question and said, Well, why did I do that? How many people truly answer those questions. So what was I thinking? But you hear this all the time? Right? Answer that question. It’s just a mindless habit. Your subconscious is literally telling you out to the very words of your mouth. Be aware, be aware, be aware, here’s something you aren’t aware of. Hello, wake up, wake up and it’s having this whole great big panic attack. You’re actually saying the question, What was I thinking and your subconscious so the question was the question. Again, you know, the subconscious, you know, really it suffers, right, because you never answer that question. And you ask it all the time. So answer your own rhetorical questions. It is a profound, profound, profound technique for becoming aware of what you’re unaware of.”
Were my questions answered? Absolutely. As I listened with the intent to understand, I learned I have been doing what works for me until I allowed “should” to enter and attempt a disruption of my life. I have been and will continue to:
• Turn awareness towards my self-talk habits.
• Practice, practice, practice with deliberate intent to be aware of what I am unaware about.
• Trust I know what is good/appropriate for me.
• Replace “should” with “can”, “will”, “am”.
• Remember there’s always another option; there’s always More.
Watch and listen to the full conversation on Spotify — Deliberately Unbound — where you can show your support by adding me to your favorites and sharing my podcast with others.
Until next week,
Wishing you love and wellness,