“I should eat better.”
“Great suggestion, I should try that.”
“I should be in better tune with my body at this age.”
“The weather is nice, I should get out my bike again.”
“I know what I should do, I just don’t do it.”
If there’s one word that I hear come out of every one of my clients’ mouths it’s the word should.
It’s not just about food and health, either. It seems to permeate all aspect of our lives.
“We should book a weekly date night… play with the kids more… ”
“I should get those investments sorted.”
“I should spend more time with friends… update my website… hire an assistant… network more.”
As one of the local business coaches says, “women are constantly shoulding all over themselves.”
My inner-perfectionist loves the word should, a word that we somehow imagine will move us forward and finally get us to that door we long to enter. As if it’s the driving force that will help you plan your day and inspire you to be more productive, make better food choices and show up as your best self in all ways.
In reality, all “should” does is elongate the hallway leading to that door, like in some weird dream where you can never reach the place you’re desperate to attain.
All it really does is set you up for a sense of failure because the bar – that you set too high in the first place – is now completely out of reach, no matter how hard or try… so why bother.
You make it your responsibility to, not only look after everything and everyone, but do it gracefully, with perfectly coiffed hair, rock-hard abs and fuelled with nothing more than kale smoothies and rainbows. As my spiritual psychotherapy teacher often said, “we carry our responsibility on our should-ers”.
“Should” weighs heavily on you, it drags you down, makes it awfully hard to rise up to life’s challenges. No wonder you’re so exhausted all the time!
“Should” has become the new source of all that ails you in your life.
It’s the source of all your troubles in the way that gluten was tagged, about a decade ago, when it showed up as the nutrition buzz-word.
Women come to me with questions like, “should I give up gluten, should I give up dairy, should I give up red meat,…?” While it is a matter of personal exploration and reading of symptoms to decide which course of nutritional advice is right for you, the first thing that all women must to give up, across the board, is “should”.
I’ve recently started to catch myself: “should” comes out of my mouth far more than I’d like to admit. Curbing it feels a bit like trying to give up gluten.
It was hard to say goodbye to some of my favourite food – fresh baguette and croissant, pasta, French toast. With gradual shifts and letting new habits take root, my body slowly adjusted and I felt the difference. I noticed where the gluten had been doing the most damage.
Here’s what I’ve noticed about the damage “should” does:
“Should” comes out when I recognise that I’ve been “bad” and know it’s time to reign in and be “good” again. Foodwise, it usually that means that the sweets have snuck back into the daily for me and I need to get out of the jag…cut the addictive streak.
“Should” is the voice of the advice I’ve received over the years, when I find myself stuck in the same place for the 47th time. When I kept having gallbladder attacks over and over again, and my acupressurist reminded me at every session to eat less butter and more bitter, I nodded then promptly ignored her advice until it got so painful, I had no choice.
“Should” surfaces when I feel guilty for not being the perfect example of business owner or housekeeper or parent or wife. The perfection, of course, defined by what I see others achieving on social media.
“Should” is a word that comes from the outside.
When you look up your symptoms online or go through the latest book, there may be suggestions that work for you and there may be others that don’t. Not everyone can function as a vegan or Paleo or low-fat or on whatever diet/lifestyle is being sold as the best this month.
“Should” is all the expectations we set for ourselves based on the standards that have been set for us by society and the media. I’m paraphrasing my friend Casey Erin Wood here – that’s basically her definition of “perfection paralysis”.
Paralysis. Should doesn’t move you forward. It stops you in your tracks.
The best way to give up should? Say Yes!
There is no one-size fits all solution to eating right.
The truth for you may lie somewhere in the middle of several rules. You need to experiment, explore, try out and listen to what works.
In tuning into your body, and noticing its sensations & symptoms, in feeling the emotions that move through it, you learn what feels good at a deeper level. Listen to your body and get to know how it says “No” and how it says “Yes!”
Yes is a commitment.
Yes opens the door to possibility.
In the dance of emotion, Yes is linked to desire, the drive to step towards something new.
Yes is an action.
You get to Yes one step at a time.
This solution is not a quick and easy fix. Like giving up gluten (or sugar, or dairy, or avoiding your taxes, or…) there will be trial and error. There will be days when you can do it, and days when you want to give it all up and dive into the fresh aroma wafting from the nearest bakery.
Slowly, gradually, with baby steps and support, you move away from the perfection required by “should” and come home to the comfort of being good to your body. Yes!
Want help taking that action?
You’ve got 2 choices:
Through the spring, I’ve been going Live to talk about some baby steps – pick one that appeals to you and give it a whirl.
You can find support for these types of changes in The Eating Better Conversation, a closed Facebook group where we talk about the challenges that hold us back and celebrate the little wins that move us forward in our quest to eating better.
Where do you should on yourself? How do you define your “Yes!”? When you share your thoughts in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.
Oh, and you should really click the pretty green buttons and share this post to all your friends, telling them they should read it too!