Very often, there seems to be a common phrase or theme in the studio. This week, the theme was “I should”. I should be able to do this on my own. I should be able to hold myself accountable. I should be self disciplined enough to get consistent. Or as I was running today, I should be able to run faster. I should be able to breathe easier. I should be able to run longer.
I want to challenge this thinking. I don’t think it is healthy.
One of the problems is that it implies such criticism. If the way I interpret my work out this morning is that I should be a better runner, that is pretty critical. Judgmental. Shame on me. How hard do you think it will be next time I go to lace up my shoes to run? Will that root of shame motivate me? Will I be pulled to go outside by the harsh judgment? No. I am never motivated to change or improve by criticism and judgment.
Another problem with should is it implies that it’s only you who struggles and that is not true. How many of us do exactly what we tell ourselves we won’t do. And how many of us don’t so what we promise ourselves we will. I take such comfort that the Apostle Paul was writing about this exact thing in his letter to the Romans (chapter 7) over two thousand years ago. If he was writing about it, then I am sure it wasn’t a broken me issue, it was a humanity issue. We just don’t have it in us to always do what’s good for us. We need help and that is OK.
Should also implies falling short and that is a lie. Just because I’m breathing heavy during my run, does not make it a failure. Just because I’m slow, doesn’t mean I suck. It is a victory every single time I get out there. You may believe that you should be doing it faster, better, easier, more consistently. I understand completely. However, it can’t stop you from doing it anyway. It can’t keep you from making a commitment to take care of yourself.
So I run anyway; breathing hard, heart rate too high, 3 miles. I’m just getting started and I know it will get easier. But in the meantime I am going to override those thoughts of criticism and judgment and find the victory in each run. I got up today and did it! I felt good about myself after. I felt proud of myself all day long.
Do it anyway. Take a new class. Start personal training. Try boxing. Go for a fitness walk. Ask for help. Override all the shoulds and the judgment and the criticism and see the victory in doing it. Claim it. Own it. You become more empowered to make extraordinary choices every time you make your choice from the place of acceptance and not judgment. From the place of love and not fear. From the place of grace and not shame.
This kind of thinking takes practice. It is tempting to jump on the merry go round of all the shoulds and just spin around but never get anywhere. Or you can see them but let them go. Just let them fly right past without ever connecting with them. They are critical and judgmental. They aren’t empowering. And they aren’t true. Let the thoughts that guide you be centered in the Truth. You are on a journey to be the best that you can be, and there are challenges and obstacles. But you’re doing it. And it doesn’t matter where anyone else is on that journey. We are all in it together, just perhaps at different places on the path.