Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 33 Don't Should on Yourself

A good friend of mine teaches personal growth seminars. The seminars are focused on helping people recognize the beliefs and behaviors that hold them back from achieving their dreams, that sabotage their relationships, and generally serve to keep them "stuck" in their current mind-set. Very insightful this friend of mine, and very other words, very good at calling me on my sh*t. But on the flip side, he is totally non-judgemental about it. There is no condemnation in his observations, only honesty and curiousity. And he has said to me on more than one occasion "Don't should on yourself".....(read "don't sh*t on yourself")....don't beat yourself up in ways that serve no only makes a mess.

Last week Lanie Painie posted on polarizing words, like always/never, and the idea that one stumble = complete failure (she doesn't feel this way, she was observing it is someone else). I've thought of her post several times this week, and it really coincides with my friend's  "Don't should on yourself" phrase.

When assessing our progress (or lack of it), it's important to:

1) Be honest: we will not make progress if we constantly fool ourselves and make excuses about our choices in foods/quantity/frequency, and about exercise or lack thereof. My friend is always an observer, always ready to look at a choice or behavior and wonder about it. "Hmm, that's interesting. I just did such-and-such. What's that all about? How could I have done that differently?". 

Example: I ate a donut. Hmm, that's interesting. That's not consistent with my goals. What's that all about? Well, the boss brought them in for our meeting and I couldn't resist. So my boss brings in donuts and I feel compelled to eat one, even though I know that they're bad for me. Did I feel like I needed to be part of the group? Was it the sight of them that did it? The smell? All of the above? How could I do that differently? I could ask the boss if he/she'd consider something healthier next time. I could be sure to eat breakfast before meetings so I'm not hungry and feeling tempted in that way. I could bring my own snack to the meeting. And at the very least, I could eat HALF a donut instead. Heck, you could even suggest that the boss bring in those little donut holes. One of those is better than the whole donut! The important thing is to observe without judgement, and then explore future possibilities. Think about the things you CAN do instead of the things you CAN'T. You can't change the past. Which leads to.....

2.) Don't should on yourself: don't internally berate yourself for past mistakes. It won't change a damn thing. The mistakes have been made and no amount of beating yourself up is going to un-do it. Better to accept that you made a choice that is not consistent with your goals, and that moment has passed. This moment presents an opportunity to make a better choice. And then make it. End of story. No should-ing. Observe the chain of events that lead to the mistake, and look for the triggers that caused them. Don't judge, just notice what they are. And look for different possibilities.

I think the "should-ing" is a way to prolong the self-sabotage. We punish ourselves for making the mistake by making more of them. It's a way of subconsciously telling ourselves that we don't deserve to be successful.

Stop the madness! We all deserve to be successful.

Winston Churchill said "If you're going through hell, keep going". I love that phrase. I even got it on a fridge magnet, and whenever my kids are struggling (or I'm struggling) I point it out to them. If I'm going through a bad situation, what is the sense of stopping to smell the rotten roses? Why linger? Why prolong the misery? Get moving! If you're running along a stretch of burning coals, you're not going to stand still, are ya? Heck no! If anything, you run faster and straighter toward the end.

Should-ing on yourself is the same as standing still on the hot coals. It makes the pain more intense. Is the goal more pain?

1 comment:

  1. Your points on self assessment a sound. Honesty and Consideration. No sense lying and no sense beating yourself up. As well, caution is good when using words that are absolute in nature. I catch myself from time to time doing so too. We can't 'never' eat another food that is imperfect. We can't 'always' exercise four times a week. Guidelines trump rules in my book. Some disagree, believe rigidity and absolutes are a must for success. Either way we're going to need to assess ourselves as we go, lets hope we can so it honestly and sanely.