Shedding the Should

Many of us spend an inordinate amount of time reflecting on what we should or should not say, do, or feel in any given situation;  past, present or future.

The voices in our heads are frequently judgmental and critical. Yet, we do not need to succumb to this endless and pointless dialog.

How often do we hear, say or think a version of the following?

What should I do?

How should I behave?

What should I say?

How should I feel?

Or……..I shouldn’t have done that, said that, felt that, etc.etc.etc. ad nauseum.

I believe that this focus on the should and should nots can strongly impact our quality of life and our ability to heal.    

Often the should and should nots are very subtle, hovering almost below our conscious awareness.  The inner critic is frequently reminding us to play it safe and follow the rules. It’s like a parent trying to keep us safe from danger.  We learned this pattern through interactions with our parents, teachers and caregivers. We relied on them for safety and survival. Initially our very lives depended on these individuals.

Much of our mind’s internal chatter, including the should and should nots, relates to primitive survival instincts that are no longer needed and actually keep us disconnected from our natural intuitive responses.  

We have all experienced the power of gut feelings – those wordless sensations that carry powerful messages revealing our inner wisdom.  This significant communication is often hidden or ignored as we mindlessly revert to figuring out what to do or say based on the should and should nots.

Regardless of whether the should and should nots are shouting or whispering, they are sources of self-pressure. They keep our body’s stress responses activated interfering with our natural ability to explore creative solutions and deep healing.

In order to foster healing and creativity we need to connect with the place inside ourselves where gut feelings, hunches, imagination and inner wisdom reside.

Maybe we simply need to change the questions we ask ourselves from what we should and should not do, say, be etc. to –

Does this feel right to me?

Does this delight me?

Does this inspire me?

Does this energize me?

Our internal navigation system is always available to provide guidance as we explore the issue at hand.  Using our physical sensations as a compass is a tool that Martha Beck calls the Body Compass. This compass connects us to the deep wisdom that speaks to us without words, without thoughts, without limits.

Give it a try:

  • Close your eyes. Pause and turn your attention to your body.
  • Drop into pure awareness noticing your breathing, feeling your feet touching the floor and your body resting on the support beneath it.
  • Bring the issue of concern into your awareness, perhaps visualizing it in your mind’s eye.
  • See yourself changing jobs, asking for a pay raise, buying a car,

moving to a new location.

  • Without judgment, calmly scan your entire body observing your physical sensations.  Are they heavy or light?  Do they feel free and expansive or tight and constricted?

Initially you may not receive a clear message. But with some practice and patience you will learn to identify your body’s “YES” and your body’s “NO.”  “YES” feels like freedom and “NO” feels like prison.

As you contemplate your goals and intentions you may find yourself wondering what you should or should not do. Instead of falling prey to the should and should nots, simply shed them as you pause and remember that your key to healing is always available to unlock your inner wisdom.  The answer lies within you!

Elaine

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