“Should” is a Saboteur


Tonight, I come to you from a humble place: a place of distraction and failings, a place of comparison where I don’t measure up to my own standards of perfection. “Measuring up” is an interesting way to put it, I suppose. For just earlier today I attended my annual doctor exam where the nurse measured my height and stated, “Wow, you’re tall, you’re so lucky!” At 5’5” I consider myself tall-ish, but I was nevertheless taller than her so I was, by her standards, tall and lucky.

And you know, she wasn’t wrong. I am tall and lucky. I have been granted a height that allows me to reach the top shelf of my cupboard and that’s pretty cool. Not everyone has that ability. I’ve been given luck in love, that’s for sure. I also consider it marvelously lucky that I’ve managed to make it home everyday, safely.

When I take those, and other, things into consideration, it seems silly that I actually spend a lot of my time feeling sorry for myself, or feeling like I am failing in some way. But the fact is that I don’t really put the good at the forefront of my mind. When I do manage to contemplate the good, it’s in a situation such as this, where I’m trying to console myself and disestablish my true feelings of self-loathing.

Those feelings of disappointment and regret surface when the word “SHOULD” comes into play. I once had a wonderful mentor who always said that “should is a saboteur.” “I should feel ______”, “I should want ______”: these are the ways “should” sabotages me. And I let it happen, because I believe what “should” tells me. I let my idea of what I should be or feel overwhelm my true actions and feelings. This comes into play when I feel lesser than at my workplace. This happens when I hear about the importance of siblings and acknowledge that I’m not interested in giving my child a sibling.

I tell myself I should be more important at my work, someone they cannot live without. Truth: I will never be that person and probably no one else will, either. I tell myself I should want to have more children. Truth: I do not want to have more children. Around and around I go, down this whirlpool of “should.” And boy, is it a long way down. But I think I’ve found the bottom and am climbing my way back up. Maybe tomorrow I can accept the work I do as good enough, and not convince myself that I’ll be fired simply for not being the boss’s favorite. Maybe tomorrow I will give my child my full attention, without simultaneously thinking about whether or not I will fail as his mother for not having more kids.

It’s times like these that I envy animals in the wild. They act and they react to real things that are actually happening. The ability to be contemplative is often a burden, and sometimes I just want to go on a vacation from my brain. If I can convince myself of the bad, certainly I can convince myself of the good, too. But “should” is a saboteur and I’m finding “should” impossible to eliminate.

Still, hope springs eternal, doesn’t it? Each day I strive to be better than the last, and I aim to become even more cognizant of myself – no matter how much it hurts – because I believe that self-awareness is my most valuable tool. I am aware that I let “should” sabotage my day and I am aware that I don’t want to go on like this forever. Between those two things, I just might have a formula for success. Between those two things, I will go to sleep one day accepting myself for who I really am, and there will be so much joy in that.

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