Stop “Shoulding” Yourself
My wife and I are both type-A perfectionists. However, we both work full time and we are neck deep in raising five young kids. This means our desire for doing things perfectly clashes abruptlyÂ against the daily challenges we attempt to tackle. I bet you can relate. I noticed something this week in the words that we use to one another. We constantly talk about what we “should have” done differently. As in, now that we’ve seen how this turns out, we should have done it a different way. As in, let’s try harder to do it better next time. As in, we failed in perfectly planning this. We took our family to California this week and this meant lots of new experiences in which we had to guess our way in advance. There were plenty of “shoulds” we both threw around. At one point, the frequency of our usage of this word prompted me to suddenly blurt out to Michelle, “Stop shoulding us.” After I said it, we both stopped and realized we just stumbled into something meaningful. This became a new goal, almost a mantra, of how we would strive to be present in the moment without second-guessing everything. It’s an acknowledgment that we won’t plan perfectly and we are fine with that. It’s a way to manage the daily tension of how we’d like everything to work out, yet how life tends to work out in reality. Otherwise, we rob the journey each day offers. There’s a fine line between learning from a mistake and living in constant, subconscious-level regret. This regret doesn’t produce growth later on. You don’t learn from it. Rather, it changes your outlook and sets a false standard which you must forever aim at hitting. It produces misery and makes you long for the destination instead of the journey. Let it go. Stop “shoulding yourself” in order to embrace the adventure of each moment.
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