Monday, July 11, 2011

Keeping the "Shoulds" in Check

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” – Ferris Bueller

I watched this movie recently and it reminded me of several simple pearls of wisdom. We all have a tendency to become too concerned with the “shoulds” in our lives. I should apply for the job. I should connect with old friends. I should get more sleep. I should drink more water. I should be more... I shouldn’t have... the list goes on. We receive a constant feed of friendly suggestions from magazines, the news, and even friends and family. While these suggestions can be helpful, they can sometimes become overwhelming, making us feel we can’t do anything right. If we could just do or fix...whatever...things would become clear or better. The problem with “shoulds” is they get in the way of what we’re doing now and can keep us from living in the present. The important thing to remember is that we are in control of our lives and decisions. Allowing the “shoulds” to interfere with our goals doesn’t encourage us forward and can keep us from really living and deciding what we think is important.

When the “shoulds” start to creep in, take a minute and do a self-check. Is this “should” a manifestation of an outside influence? Is it scary or intimidating? How does your body react when you focus on it? Doing a self-check allows us to focus on one issue at a time, keeping the thoughts from snowballing, and can get us in touch with our true feelings. Is the “should” really important or is it just getting in the way of what we’re doing now?

As Ferris so wisely noted, if we don’t slow down and think about what’s really important, in the present moment, all of those “shoulds” will continue to creep in and cloud what’s really important.

Claire Jolly is an intern at The Awakening Center. She is a student at Centre College and leads the Eating Disorder Drop-In Support Group on Tuesday evenings.