By Faith Badders
Question after question flooded my mind as I thought about the past four years of my life in college and where I was six months ago.
Should I be doing more? Should I stop doing so much? Should I pursue this or that? What in the world should I do with my life?!
After coming to terms with my excessive “shoulding,” a friend so graciously advised me to stop “shoulding all over myself.” Easier said than done, right? How does one even begin to climb out of the shoulding hole to discover who one really is?
Nancy Colier once said, “Out of touch with our own “wanting,” we have lost a sense of intimacy with ourselves [and others]. We know who we are supposed to be, but not who we are.” I couldn’t relate more to a quote.
After sleepless nights, daily binges on sugar and caffeine, anti-anxiety and depression medication, multiple counseling sessions, and depletion of joy and peace in my life, I become exhausted from shoulding all over myself. I was driven by my “shoulds” and out of touch with my innate, God-given desires. As a response, I decided to go on a quest to find myself outside of the dark and cold “shoulding hole” I had lost myself in.
I started by reframing the “should statements:”
I should have done more in college.
I am very content with the life I lived in college.
I should post more on Instagram because how else is everyone going to know what I am doing?
I am not going to post on Instagram because I am secure in what I am doing.
I should workout and eat healthy because that’s what healthy people do.
I am going to do my best to live a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet and participating in physical activity I enjoy.
I should stay up late and read books on how to become a better version of myself because I am not good enough or smart enough.
I am not going to try to prove myself as good enough or smart enough. Instead, I am going to take a bubble bath, say my prayers, and go to bed before midnight.
I should stop being so selfish and love others more.
Today, I am going to be more aware of how I show love to myself and others.
I should get my masters in counseling
I desire to get my masters in counseling.
Sleeping more, finding a helpful counselor, trying out different medication, and having an immense amount of grace, love, and support in my life gave me hope and shined some light on what else was going on in the shoulding hole.
I caught myself unknowingly expecting others to meet my “shoulding statements” as well.
You should be doing more for me. You should act as if you care about me. You should show me more attention. You should like my pictures and view my stories. You should know my every need/want/desire, and you should not expect me to do the same because I am too busy shoulding on myself.
This ego-centric mindset was selfish and did not serve me well. As people fell short of my expectations, I subconsciously felt sorry for myself, entitled to get what I wanted, and ultimately bitter as I lost how to love and be loved.
I became desperate to leave behind the “shoulding self” for a life of contentment. In return, I discovered a new love for life, myself, and others by contemplating on these little reminders:
Satisfaction in life comes from cultivating a thankful heart.
Social media may lead to shoulding even more on myself.
Love and support proceeds sharing my thoughts and struggles with a trusted friend or family member.
Resting in grace revives the soul.
Loving myself is life-giving.
Practicing mindfulness is a great way to shut-up the non-conducive “shouldy talking.”
Do because you want to, not because you have to.
Instead of saying or thinking, “You should,” say, “It would be nice if…”
These little reminders carried me a long way to find the joy, love, and grace that I so desperately needed in my life.
I would like to say I will never visit that “shouldy hole” again. But to be completely honest, I often find myself falling back into that dark hole, searching for a glimpse of hope.
Letting go of who I think I should be, to discover who I already am, has required a daily surrendering to self and a large dosage of grace, discipline, and compassion. When I find myself “shoulding all over the place,” I will look to that small glimpse of hope and allow myself to be covered in the grace and love so freely given to me.
Faith Badders grew up in small-town Nacogdoches, Texas and graduated from Baylor University in 2017 with a degree in Public Health. She enjoys doing yoga, spending time outdoors, volunteering, and baking yummy treats! Faith currently works at the Yoga Pod and volunteers with Grace Alliance, a mental health support group that meets at Antioch Community Church; Unbound an anti-sex trafficking organization; and Grace House, a home for women in recovery. She recently became certified in Health Coaching and Holy Yoga and will attend UMHB’s counseling program in the fall.