Episode 6: Quit Shoulding All Over Yourself

I talk to my best friend every day, we recently decided to get on a daily schedule where we do check in calls every night.

I noticed the word “should” coming up a lot from both of us.

I should feel this way. I shouldn’t feel that way. I should have done this. I should do that.

We get so caught up in the ‘shoulds’ of our lives that we hardly even live it at all.

Stop telling yourself how you should feel. Stop doing things because it’s just what you ‘should’ do.

How often do we get caught up in the shoulds that we don’t know the last time we really enjoyed ourselves? That we find ourselves in a life that we didn’t even want?

Stop shoulding all over yourself

There are some things you shouldn’t do. You shouldn’t kill anyone. You shouldn’t rob a bank. You shouldn’t do something to hurt someone else just for the sake of hurting them.

But when it comes to you, your thoughts, your feelings, your life, the only thing you SHOULD be doing is living.

Especially when it comes to our feelings. Stop telling ourselves that we should feel this way or that way. What if we just allowed ourselves to feel whatever it is that we’re feeling?

Ohhhh. That hits different. That’s not comfortable. Feeling my feelings?! Uhm, that’s going to be a nope from me.

Trust me, I get it. I’m still learning how to actually feel my feelings. I’m still learning how to stop cutting myself off at the knees by stuffing down my feelings.

There’s nothing you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ feel. Feelings aren’t wrong – they’re yours.

The thing to remember here is that feelings don’t equate to actions. It’s ok to feel something – it doesn’t mean you have to act on it.

Stuffing your feelings doesn’t do anything other than create pressure. It’s like throwing a bunch of mentos in a bottle of coke and putting the lid on. The bottle will contain it for a little bit. But eventually it’s going to explode.

Allowing yourself to accept how you feel is so liberating. You don’t have to question it. You can just acknowledge its presence and let it do what it needs to do.

Allow yourself to feel angry, sad, happy, hurt, joyous, excited.

But – how do I do that?! You don’t understand how long I’ve been stuffing feelings.

I can tell you that I have some pretty extensive experience myself. I used to be a self prescribed angry person. I hated everything and everyone, myself included. It reached a point that I didn’t really know why I was angry, it just became a part of my identity. One day, those feelings exploded. I didn’t understand why I was feeling everything, why I had to think about those things, why they mattered.

I spent so long being angry that I didn’t know it was acceptable that I feel any other way. But I also felt guilty for being angry because I SHOULD be happier – other kids have it a lot worse.

After the explosion, I honestly felt numb. This explosion was about two years ago, and I stayed numb for over a year. I hardly felt anything. It got to the point that I didn’t even feel much joy being around my son. Now you have to understand something – I love my son with all my heart. He is my entire world. Not feeling pure joy made me feel so guilty. It also made the chasm between us even wider. I felt so much guilt because of what I SHOULD be feeling that I reached a breaking point.

Not long after I came across my first coach and my life changed. I share about that in the first episode, so I won’t go too into it. But I will say that I learned that it was ok to feel things. It was ok to experience a full range of emotions and not feel guilty for them.

I started doing a lot of personal development work. As I continued to learn more about myself and grow, I was able to feel more. After several months of work I became more comfortable with my emotions and allowing myself understand my feelings, I remember looking at my son playing a video game. He had just hit a milestone. Killing a boss or something. He looked over at me with a massive smile on his face. He was so excited and his pure, unadulterated joy infected me. He looked over at me, looking over for approval.

And for the first time in a long time, I felt joy. To know that I was so important to him that he wanted me to recognize his achievement, being so proud that he stuck with it even though it was hard, just being happy and joyful that my son was so happy with himself.

That process isn’t easy. I’m still working through it. I still struggle with it.

But I’m able to live life and actually feel.

There isn’t a step by step process for this. It isn’t something that I can say that after X days you’ll magically feel. 

But it is something that comes with awareness. Becoming aware of what you think, how you respond to people. When you begin to feel that feeling coming on, think on it for a second. Don’t tell yourself it’s right or wrong, just recognize it. Feel whatever it is. If you’re angry, feel the sensations in your body. You don’t have to act on it. In fact, you shouldn’t act on much of anything when you’re angry.

If you’re sad, hurt, happy, feel it. Experience the emotion. Just become aware.

This isn’t a straight line to the top kind of process. It’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have moments where you get stuck. There are going to be times when you don’t want to feel that emotion. There are going to be times that you’re going to try to allow yourself to feel and you slip up. That’s ok. You’re human. You’re TRYING. That puts you ahead of most of the people in the world.

Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Stop shoulding all over your feelings. Stop shoulding all over your life. You deserve a life you WANT. Not the life you feel you SHOULD have.

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