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I am up ridiculously early for me.  My left calf muscle decided, all on its own, to seize this morning just before 5am.  Not just once – which is enough to wake me from a peaceful sleep and send me heart racing as I squirm and try to get it to loosen – but twice.  Just as I was starting to be able to breathe again, and the pain was receding, it came back with a vengeance.  Needless to say, as soon as I was able to walk on it again, I got out of bed.  A bruised, sore feeling and some burning is all that remains of the pain, but there’s no returning to sleep after that.

In my last post I was struggling with the What Ifs and the Shoulds.  Although I felt like I worked through the What Ifs by following them to their conclusion and taking the power out of the fear, the Shoulds were still hanging out there, dangling just above my head.  I used to do a slew of things before some random force outside of my control drew a line in the sand and said “remember the things you did before October of 2013?  Well, you’re not really going to be able to do all those anymore.”  It just seems crazy.  And unfair.    

Why are the Shoulds such an issue for me?  Well, it seems that Should is to black and white, too set in stone.  When you should do something, you either do it (success) or don’t (failure).  There is no room for an in between.  The fact that I can’t work over 40 hours without physical consequences became a failure on my part mainly because of the vocabulary I was choosing to use.

So, how do I combat this?  It seems easy enough once the solution was shared with me – simply replace the word.  As an example:

  • I should be able to swim half of a mile without feeling tired.
  • I would like to be able to swim half of a mile without feeling tired.

See the difference?  This was another enlightening moment for me.  Instead of feeling like a failure, if I swim only a quarter of a mile this week and then I’m tired, that’s okay, but next week I’ll try again.   Now my brain is off and running creating lists of things that I would like to do:

  • I would like to swim at least twice a week
  • I would like to practice yoga at least three times a week
  • I would like to continue blogging/journaling at least once a week
  • I would like to continue working as long as I can manage it
  • I would like to be able to do fun things on the weekend instead of spending it in bed
  • I would like to attend more events (ex: plays, concerts, etc)
  • I would like to travel again

From the mundane daily things to the big life plans, a simple change of words creates an opportunity for the goal/plan to be met halfway and makes the whole experience so much more positive and empowering. 

What to read more?  Other arguments for moving away from the Shoulds:

  1. Psychology Today
  2. Daily Good
  3. Mindful Communication
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