Recently, I’ve found myself in situations and circumstances where I’ve felt as though I’ve had to do things a certain way. Maybe because I’ve always done things this way. Maybe because of unrealistic expectations I put on myself to be perfect. Maybe because I want everyone to like me, which won’t ever happen so I need to get over that one haha. Maybe because I want to feel a certain way. But whatever the reason, I’ve been feeling a lot of “shoulds” recently.

You know what I mean. When with every little decision or choice you make, you think to yourself, Well, I should really be doing this instead. I should have woken up earlier. I shouldn’t have eaten that ice cream. I should work on this project. I should be happier. I should be as successful as she is. etc etc the list goes on

We should ourselves. We should all over ourselves, and yes, it does sound a little nasty when you put it that way. But shoulding is not a pretty thing, friends. In her blog, Jessi Kneeland defines “shoulding” as

Creating a ton of pressure on yourself to do or be something, based on what you think you’re supposed to do or be, rather than on who you are and what you want.

So, as I’m sitting in therapy talking to my counselor about all of this, she asks me one simple question that totally blew my mind:

What “should” are you listening to? 

I had a hard time answering the question at first. I was baffled! All this time the voices in my head & heart were telling me I should do all these things, but I didn’t know where the source came from.

What was the source of my should?

Well, for me, my shoulds come from other people’s expectations, real or perceived. Most of the time, perceived. Most most of the time, it’s out of fear of their judgment. I should do this because they will judge me if I do otherwise. I shouldn’t do this because they will judge me if I do.

well, who cares what they think. the only expectations that should hold weight in my life are the ones I place on myself. not others. ultimately, only I know what I’m going through and only I know what I need. I’m doing the best I can. 

Today, I declare that I am letting go of that voice in my head that tells me “I should.” I’m replacing it with more empowering, self-aware language like “I want” or “I will” or “I need.” This isn’t selfish, y’all, this is setting healthy boundaries that set ourselves up for less shame and more freedom.

Set yourself free from you “should” today and saturate yourself in kindness and grace. You know what you want and need. Don’t let other people’s expectations of you define the life you choose to live.

Oh and P.S. One of my best friends, Rachel, writes about her struggles with shoulding herself in her blog if you want to read about this topic more. It’s super funny, relatable, and encouraging, so you should definitely check it out!!

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