As I reflect on identity this month, I think of shedding the “shoulds” or beliefs that show up around where we should be, how we should act, how we should speak, and who we should be. What would it be like to lovingly acknowledge the shoulds and should nots that no longer serve us, drop the perfectionism, and instead recognize the shoulds that do? Not-Serving Shoulds might sound like:
I shouldn’t be struggling with this physical ailment.
I shouldn’t be suffering.
I shouldn’t have this bank balance.
I shouldn’t be questioning my ability.
I shouldn’t have to deal with this uncertainty.
I shouldn’t have taken this job.
I should be thinner.
I should be a better parent.
I should have a better boss.
I should be in a different relationship.
I should have a different life.
What would it be like to accept that we should be exactly where we are until we should be somewhere else? What if we could relax the should of perfection? Would you be willing to try this on: We are always growing, shedding and even tending to old shoulds, let’s give ourselves the gift of patience as we unfold and move through the complexity of life.
Right now, I am contemplating how perhaps I should be nervous about my transition into a new job. I don’t have evidence that it will absolutely work out, and nervousness is okay and totally naturally. I wonder how I should be unsure of how to bring forth my larger vision, I’ve never done it before nor do I totally know how to do it. I breathe in that perhaps I should feel mixed about my life in the city since so many complex experiences have happened during our time here.
What shoulds make sense for you right now? What would it be like to seek and feel compassion for these shoulds, and most importantly, for yourself? What examples do you have on how you should be exactly where you are? How are the challenges of your life, perhaps your should nots, actually perfect for your own evolution? Which shoulds make up the story you want to tell about your life and which ones don’t?
I’d welcome your shoulds, should you choose to share.
Steph Cowling is a graduate of Cosmic Cowgirls “Leading a Legendary Life” mentorship program. She currently works as a non-profit program coordinator in NYC providing advising to young people as they transition into college and career. While she has worked in education for the past ten years, Steph is currently focused on healing and deep self-care through growing her artist self, nurturing her love of writing, dancing, photography, and spiritual study. She is currently cultivating the soil for her bigger dreams of offering women’s mentorship and retreat programs. She lives with her partner and fur-baby in Brooklyn.