I still viscerally feel my heartbreak the day I placed my Mom in a nursing home after her one too many falls with Parkinson’s. I chose to research, visit, and relocate her so she would be taken care of in a safe environment. I chose to call her every day for almost 3 years because I wanted to stay connected. I chose to fly back to Illinois to break her out of jail, (as she called it) at least once a quarter because I knew how much it meant to her.
I didn’t do any of this because I am a saint or because I thought I should, I chose to do it because it made me feel good. When we choose to do things, it comes from our hearts and it makes us feel good about ourselves because it’s the right thing to do. When we should ourselves to do things, it comes from our heads, and we either feel bad about ourselves if we don’t do it or resentful if we do.
Shoulding on ourselves is a no-win situation for everyone. We all have things we don’t want to do in life, but the place our decision comes from to do it makes all the difference. Statements like, I should get organized…I should create a budget…I should call so and so…I should be more patient…I should ask for help … keeps us stuck!
- I should is what I think to do and builds resentment (Head). I choose is what I feel to do and creates well-being (Heart).
- I should comes from outside validation, someone, or something else. I choose is self-validating because I feel good when I do it.
- I should is not action-oriented. I choose is an idea, plan, or step.
- I should supports I’m not good enough or I would do this. I choose is empowering because I am doing this.
- I should is not authentic as we think we need to be somebody else. I choose is genuine because we listen to and act in our hearts.
Look at all you do today and notice where it comes from, your heart, with I choose or your head, with I should. It may require some reframing or making some tough decisions, but you can change your shoulds into choices or, let them go altogether. When you decide to do something from your heart, you won’t have to pretend, feel bad about yourself, or be resentful. Then you are freed up to choose to be the best version of yourself. How resilient of you!