Stop Should-ing on Yourself and Start Living
By guest blogger Ingrid Martine MA PCC
What do you do when you hear that pesky little voice telling you what you should and shouldn’t have done in a recent exchange with your boss, co-worker, friend, spouse, or child? Do you try to ignore it only to notice it won’t shut up? Do you indulge it to the point of considering talking to your doctor about OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)?
You may have heard it said: “Regret is a waste of spirit.” There’s wisdom in that. Try as you may, you can’t have a do-over for a particular regret. So let that one go. It is what it is. If you did something you wish you hadn’t:
Regardless of how it turns out, you will have acted out of a longing to be a good friend, family member, team player, leader. You will have demonstrated your longing in courageous action. You feel good about yourself. You are energized. That’s the experience of being alive.
It may be that YOU are the one who feels injured. But instead of talking about it with the person you perceive to be the cause, you stuff it, keeping company only with the voice that’s should-ing on you. What the voice is NOT telling you is that a part of you wants to do something different but is being held in check by the pesky, critical voice whose job it is to keep you safely doing what you’ve always done, even if it causes you pain.
You could have a conversation with the person who you perceive has hurt you. However, why not begin your journey from should-ing all over yourself to feeling energized and alive, by examining y the beliefs that come up for you in the hurtful exchange. If you do that, you’ll quickly come to expectations you have of the other (He should’ve been more sensitive). You’ll quickly come to the rules by which you expect yourself and the other to play. Seeing those rules can bring you relief. Aah! Would it be ok with you if life got easier?
Expectations are said to be premeditated resentments.
To be human is to have expectations. However, have as few expectations as possible (What does it mean to be sensitive? Do you expect the other to read your mind?). Having few expectations will give you and others breathing room— the space to come from an open heart. It’s freeing and it becomes possible for both to express your natural generosity. In such a sweet space, even at work, it’s possible to speak about expectations and to bring them to the table for inquiry. Are they shared, and if not, can you create expectations that you can all embrace? In such a space, when someone fails to meet an expectation, you wonder together about the lessons that can be learned from the breakdown, not how to use it as a weapon to “should” on each other. Try it. Curiosity and wonder open us up to the life we long to live, one filled with sweetness and possibility.