If you haven’t heard the term, shoulding, you may be thinking – say what, what? For those of you who are unfamiliar, I’ll pop in the definition to the slang term below.
Noun. shoulding (uncountable) The cognitive distortion of making statements of what should be true, as opposed to reality. ~ Wiktionary
Now we’re all on the same page.
So, are you shoulding on yourself? Do you find yourself thinking I should have done this, or I should have done that? We all do it, but the thing to keep in mind is there is a healthy balance between staying on track and living in the land of shoulds. If you are stuck in that mode of beating yourself up for things left undone it can be difficult state to achieve peaceful happiness. There are vast amounts of people who fall into this mindset. I know firsthand that a great number of parents are top-notch at shoulding. There’s so much pressure to be that perfect parent, and honestly, it’s worse now with social media than ever before. Something I wouldn’t have known though, until it became my reality, is just how this mind frame permeates the world of someone with chronic illness.
When you are sick, especially with an incurable illness, the list of things you think you should be doing is infinite. Here are just a few general shoulds of a chronic illness person. I should:
o rest as much as possible
o move my body as much as possible
o try that new supplement or medication
o find a better doctor
o catch up on all the latest research
o let my mind rest so I don’t crash
o soak in some sun
o do yoga
o eat kale
Those don’t even touch the list of things you constantly beat yourself up about because you shouldn’t do them. Believe it or not they are often the opposite. For instance, I shouldn’t:
o rest (people will see me as lazy)
o move my body (it’s going to send me into a flare)
o try that supplement (it’s going to bring on wretched side effects)
o clean (oh the joy of a flare from cleaning…I mean really!)
o find a new doctor (I’ll be considered doctor shopping)
o catch up on all the latest research (and the flare from using too much mental exertion)
o let my mind rest (if I don’t exercise my brain it’ll turn to mush)
o shower (it’ll take all my energy and then I won’t be able to do anything else)
o soak in some sun (it’ll send my heart rate soaring and bring on a pressure headache)
o stay positive (it’s important to let your true feelings out now and again)
o do yoga (it’ll cause pain)
o meditate (mmmm…there’s no shouldn’t here, you definitely should 😉)
o eat kale (it’ll hurt my stomach and it’s not on one of the six different diets I’m supposed to follow)
If you’re thinking oh my gosh, this sounds a bit quirky, are you kidding me?! No, not kidding this is the reality of chronic illness. You are often darned if you do and darned if you don’t. The list is literally skimming the surface, chronic illness affects everyone’s body differently, but you get the gist. The good news is, as a chronically ill person at some point you start to let go of what your old shoulds looked like and you start to embrace the confines of your new shoulds. You also learn to hold them at bay accordingly, but it’s not easy.
Here’s the thing, no matter what walk of life you come from, if you are focused on any other moment that is not the current moment, you are taking this moment away from yourself. If you find yourself lost in thoughts of all the things you should have done, are you happy in those thoughts? My advice? Write them down, make a list. Decide what is still important, set some goals, and work on getting them done. However, once you have written them down and made a plan come back to the present. Let yourself simply be. Focus on the moment. Not every moment is obviously going to be a great moment, but sometimes if you just stop, clear your mind, and look around, listen, just let it soak in. Maybe it’s peacefully silent where you are, maybe there are birds chirping, maybe your children are giggling, maybe there are blooming flowers, maybe you are at work at a job you fought hard to get (you did it! Appreciate it!), maybe your partner is there, maybe it’s late at night and everyone is peacefully sleeping, soak it in. Life seems to pass more and more quickly the older I get, if I may be so bold, don’t spend it endlessly tasking yourself, take some time to be present, be thankful, and be kind.
Thank you for popping in today. Spring is so near here, the weather has warmed, the birds are chirping a bit more, and the time change is nearly upon us. Seems like this is a good time of year globally, Spring and Autumn are both notoriously milder. Hoping today has been kind to you and also hoping you have been kind to you (no more shoulding on yourself for the day!). 🌸