Earlier in the year (here and here) I wrote about how I was no longer going to frame my life around doing what I thought I ought to be doing, especially if I got that inner feeling that it was ‘going against the grain’. We all know that feeling, though I suspect that it differs slightly for each of us. For me, it feels like I’m trying to push through an invisible force field, or swim through glue, against the tide.
There have been so many times when my inner dialogue has been “I don’t really want to, but I suppose that I should…” I suppose that I should work out, I suppose that I should go to that event, I suppose I should eat this… I could go on for a while. At the root of these guilt and duty based thoughts is the belief that others (family, friends, society in general) expect you to behave a certain way, and that you will get negative reactions from them if you don’t.
Now, I’m not saying we should be selfish. We all have the responsibility to be decent, helpful and kind citizens. But, for me, “should” is rooted in guilt and I have decided that I am not going to operate from a place of guilt, or fear about what other people’s reactions will be (you can’t control their reactions and, really, their reactions are their business).
I took away a valuable lesson from Melissa Ambrosini in her book Mastering Your Mean Girl (read my review here), which is that if it isn’t a wholehearted YES, then it’s a no. That is the principle she lives by, and I think it is a very good one.
Make every choice from a place of Love, and only commit to what you can/will wholeheartedly do.
Now, every time I get the “I suppose that I should…” thought, I stop and think about what I am doing. For instance, it would probably be better for me to work out every day but if I feel that I am operating from a disempowered, guilt state then I won’t do it. I don’t want to bring guilt energy into anything because I think it undoes any good work. Guilt energy is the worst. So, I either reframe my thoughts or hold off a little while until I can.
I know when something isn’t right for me, but so many times I have ignored that knowingness because I thought I was being ridiculous, or unreasonable. Or that others would think that I was those things. But, no more! I am tossing aside “should” (except maybe in cases like I should go to bed early tonight… Aha!).
I know that I do a lot of positive, helpful things for other people so I am not ashamed to start saying no to some things, and only do what I really feel is right for me (whether that is leaving a party early, or something much bigger). Being a guilt-ridden martyr (with the inevitable resentment) doesn’t help anyone. At all. Ever. Only loving yourself truly enables you to come from a place of love, thus bringing love into the world wherever you go and with whomever you meet.
So, abandon “should” and with every choice – big or small – ask: is it from love, and is it a wholehearted yes? When you are excited and happy, you will bring more of that to the world.