Life is what it is. We have very little control over what comes our way. If we had the choice and if we were being 100% honest, we’d probably say “No, thank you” (some more politely than others) to the some of the life “issues” we’ve been handed and turn and walk (run) the other direction.
We don’t though. Because the majority of us are respectable individuals that understand we have obligations, we have responsibilities, and we have them whether we like them or not. And along the way we become so good at being how we “should” be that, if we are being 100% honest, most of us are living lives that don’t match up with who we are on a soul level.
Maybe it started young for you (for me) as a people pleaser and a caretaker. Maybe it started later when you had to sacrifice something that mattered to you in order to do the thing that needed to be done. Maybe somewhere along the ups and downs and the circles and the valleys, you just got tired and started going along for the ride. Maybe life dealt a hard blow that you felt totally ill-equipped to deal with.
There are lots of reasons we get lost from ourselves. And a lot of these reasons aren’t bad reasons. Like I said, most of us are hard-wired to do the right thing. But eventually all we see is everyone else’s “right thing” and that is who we become– everyone else’s version of who they need us to be.
Bottom line? Most of us have lost sight of what makes us truly shine. Most of us have lost sight of ourselves. But it is finding and nourishing ourselves that gives us the strength we need to nourish anybody else. It’s not a self-indulgence. It’s a necessity. Ask yourself this. How much do you do based on the expectations of others? How much do you do because you are afraid to do the thing you really want to? How much of yourself has become who you “should” be and not who you are?
I want to be very clear here. I might love the idea of running away to Italy and roaming the streets and drinking wine and eating the best pasta ever. I might love the idea of living free of responsibility on a beach somewhere, where I rise and sleep with the tides and not at the mercy of the bus schedule. But that it is not what I am talking about. I love my family, and to be honest, most of my life, too much to have any desire to abandon everything.
However, I am very clear on the fact that my life of trying to be who I “should” be has not been entirely fulfilling or nourishing. I am one who has, from a very early age, felt the need to make sure everyone was okay, everyone was happy, everyone was comfortable, everyone liked me. And I built a life around how I perceived I should be. Some of this came from external sources. A lot of it came from my perception of those external sources. I spent so much of my life trying to do what I should that I lost track of who I was.
I also had constantly judged myself against some “should” I had created in my mind. I shouldn’t be so tired. I should have a cleaner house. I should eat salad. I should weigh a certain weight. I should not get upset– ever. These always come as judgments when I perceive myself to be falling short (which turns out to be a lot more than I like to admit).
Then I had this grand epiphany and I absolutely LOVE those! “Who says????” That was my grand epiphany. Who says I have to eat salad or have a cleaner house or do exercise that is boring or not need an ‘effing nap sometimes? No one says. Just me. My head. My brain.
These are the thoughts that dull our shine. These are the thoughts that have us running around trying to please everyone else all of the time. These are the thoughts that exhaust us and deplete us and make us feel badly about ourselves. And these thoughts have got to go.
Pay attention to how often you judge yourself against what you should or should not be doing and then ask, “Who says???” (You can throw the f-word in there if you feel so inclined.) And if it isn’t you saying so because YOU WANT to or it MATTERS to YOU or it LIGHTS YOU up, you’ve got some decisions to make. The biggest one being: whose life are you going to live– yours or someone else’s?
I will insert my opinion on what I think the answer should be at this point. I hope it’s your life you want to live. And I hope you run right out and do something that makes you feel alive– in your skin, in your life. And I hope you take the “should” thoughts that plague you and give them an eviction notice. And I hope that doing these things brings you some joy. Because, in the end, that’s all we really want– some joy :o)