“Any mind is a hostage to its habits. For perfectionistic minds, this is even more true. The perfectionist’s mind is a high-security prison guarded by guilt-tripping shoulds.” ~ Pavel Somov
Many times in my life I have fallen victim to the “shoulds.” I did things not because I wanted to, but because a guilty feeling in my thoughts told me that if I was a good girl then I should do this. Perfectionists even take the shoulds to another level by telling themselves to try harder and never make a mistake. When guilt enters into the formula, then we do something out of sense of duty rather than desire. Many times we aren’t even aware we are doing these things we feel we should be doing, it is part of our driven perfectionist mindset – we are on automatic pilot and being mindless.
So, how do you deal with the shoulds? First, you recognize that you have used the word should when talking about doing something. Awareness is the key and I find it amusing now how often I say, “I should do this.” Once I am aware, I realize that I have a choice. So, I look at the situation and truly determine if I have a desire to do this thing or if I am only doing it out of a sense of duty to someone or something. It is so freeing to know that I have a choice and I can say no without guilt. The purpose is to unmask the shoulds to find our true wants and desires. I have learned what others have been saying for years and that No is a complete sentence. I usually want to add qualifiers and reasons why I can’t do something, but that is just my pleaser personality wanting to make everyone happy, so I am aware of this and stop at just saying no. It wasn’t initially easy to say No, but I practiced with some simple things as first. I don’t always say no as smoothly and comfortably as I would like, but I continue to improve and get better. The only person who can take care of me, is me and this perfectionist is no longer falling victim to the shoulds.
Do you ever fall victim to the guilt tripping shoulds?
The next time you recognize yourself saying you should do something, stop and realize you have a choice. Ask yourself, “are you doing this out of a sense of duty or do you truly have a desire to do this activity?” What happens?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
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