Stop “Shoulding” On Yourself

Well, I guess I should get started, right?  I mean … I’ve got this blog post to write and I should do it.  Or, should I? What else “should” I do? Workout? Eat right? Put my dirty underwear in the ‘correct’ place? Stop yelling at my kids? Make that appointment with the financial planner? Read that book? Get out of debt? Start loving my neighbor more?

The list can go on and on. Sooner or later I’ve ‘should’ on myself so much that there’s this big verbal pile of “shoulds” weighing me down. I start to feel terrible about myself. And then, I just check out and don’t do anything. There isn’t a lot of passion in a “should.”

One of the many things that I have learned through my time in The Crucible Project is the option to take a step back and look at what is working and what isn’t working in my life.  It’s an invitation to notice — without judgment or blame — those messages (e.g. “shoulds”) that I’ve been telling myself over and over. When I give myself permission to accept that invitation, I can ask myself new questions:

What if…

  • I change my “shoulds”  into “coulds”?
  • I change my “needs” into “wants”?

Once I start to do this I’m met with this thought —

  • “Could” creates agency to dream.  
  • “Want” stokes desire.

However … I also notice that even when I’m convicted by a dream or desire and set out to do something, it’s not uncommon for me to question or doubt myself. Fear shows up despite my dreams and desires.

Fear wants to convince me that I never actually had the desire or that it didn’t really matter to me anyway. Fear likes “shoulds” a lot better than “coulds” and “needs” a lot more than “wants.”

Then, I heard this comment in a recent podcast: “Being brave is when you don’t feel afraid, and so you take big risks or do dangerous things. Being courageous is when you feel all the fear, but you choose to do it anyway, because there’s something more important at stake.”

And isn’t that true, friends? So many lives end with their brush left undipped in the vibrant paint of desire, not chancing to wield courageous creative strokes.

And therein lies my work. And I’m guessing maybe yours.

This work is best done in community and I’ve found that The Crucible Project is a unique safe space to enable you to move through fear and to become men of courage, who can turn our backs to the “shoulds” and face our fears when something important is at stake:

Sitting in the should

Thinking I’m no good

Numb what I feel

Life’s gone; no zeal

Stuck with just the plain

Warped by the pain

It’s my own life I disdain

Good Lord, send the rain

Call me to awake

This fear I want to shake

Could I move through this valley

Courageously walk past this alley

Into the life I’ve dreamed of

One of greater and greater love

By Justin Haas

Justin completed his initial weekend in November of 2008 and is a graduate of the two-year Transformational Leadership Program (although he wishes there was a four-year option). A California native, Justin was uprooted at age 8 and transplanted into a “foreign, midwest” world called Chicago, along with its bitter temperatures and murky — sometimes fluffy — snow. He believes the depth of healing one receives is crucial to the level of honesty one is willing to have with themselves and living in the light with others. Justin is a husband to one lovely wife and a father to three wacky & tender kids. Professionally, he hangs out in the I.T. industry.

Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management via Creative Commons