“Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are” – Brene Brown
For probably 5 years I have been attempting to eliminate the word SHOULD from my vocabulary. The first time I realized the problems this word causes was while reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. That book opened my eyes to so much that I am still living out, but one of the things was that there’s all these perfect ideals for so many facets of our lives we are living under, ideals we picked up along the way through hurts or media or social interaction that discretely became a reference point to reveal how we or others are not measuring up.
That little word has so much wrapped up in it. It implies there’s a perfect out there somewhere. It implies whatever we are talking about is missing the mark. It implies there’s an objective way to see everything and a measuring stick to be used. It implies that something isn’t good enough. It disguises itself as harmless, helpful even. But is it?
Unfortunately we are bombarded with a culture that so kindly (sarcasm) tells us all that about who we should be, how we should behave, what we should look like, what we should have done or been or seen or known or…. you can go on endlessly.
But have you ever stepped back and asked – Who says? Where do these shoulds come from? Are they true? Who is profiting from my believing this?
Who says you should be skinnier? Who says you should haven’t done that? Who says you should’ve acted differently? Should be know how to be better with money? Should be prettier, wealthier, more of a leader, less depressed, more this, less that and on and on and on. If you allow it, the amount of ideals you are living under will never end.
The reality is, these “shoulds” were picked up somewhere along the way of life. Someone told you and you listened. Ads played and you fell for the media. People hurt you and you took that as a should that you missed and now you may live every day by it’s rules.
What shoulds are you walking around with like shackles in life?
Name them. Know them. Awareness is always the first step to them losing power.
Now ask, are they true? What’s their source? Is it a healthy or idealistic?
You see those shoulds came from other people. People who weren’t you, with your genetic make up, age, history, circumstances, struggles. They came from other humans living humanly. And some of them? They came from impossibilities that only exist in the airbrushed media. Are you living with shoulds that never originated from God or your own true loving voice?
I think Shauna Niequist is wise when she says “should is a warning sign”. It’s a sign we’re living to please another. It’s a sign something’s out of synch and we are holding ourselves up to impossibilities and not taking in all of reality.
Sure we are not perfect and there are ample ways we can grow and become better, but we are all on individual journeys. We are all made 100% unique. There is no apple-to-apple should comparison to live by in the world or all of history. There is purpose and beauty in our differences. There are things only you can bring to this earth that no one in all of time could bring but you.
So stop shoulding yourself as my roommate and I like to joke. Cause after all…. who says?
Maybe the only should we can safely live under is being exactly us, exactly how we are and who we are. See all of you, be compassionate, and from there grow and change. Don’t allow yourself to live one more day under a should another person tied around you. We can only grow once we get rid of the excess weights that say we are not enough.
Extra Musings and Random Thoughts
A few books have really shaped this view in me. First is Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection as I mentioned. Every person can gain a huge amount of insight from this book. Shauna Niequist’s work I mentioned was in her daily read Savor. Kristin Neff’s work on Self-Compassion opened me to the reality of wise discerning verses judgement which allows you to see the much larger picture of people. And lastly but most significantly the Bible. If you know who you are in Christ, you know you are loved, worthy, able to change, enough, known, valuable, and forgiven.
This pic is from my adorable yard. I love all it’s little yellow and purple spots of whimsy! Who says they are weeds? I call them beautiful.