Stop Shoulding All Over Yourself

It was hard not to put demands on myself about what was happening in my life. I longed to have control of my situation. Before I knew it social media, especially Pinterest, had convinced me I was less than the Leave it to Beaver mom. I think of all the wonderful plans I had for myself and my life. The American dream with a husband, 2.5 children, and a white picket fence. I looked at the world compared to my situation. My situation was never a husband, one child, and no fences plus about three more family roommates than I hadn't planned on. Then I got a bad case of the shoulds.

I should be thinner, I should be a stay at home mom, I should be a better mother, I should be going to a yoga class, I should be hanging out with friends, I should talk to my friends more, I should be picking up my kids everyday, I should be spending all my time with my kid, I should get them involved in sports, I should make sure they are smart, I should take them on vacation, I should get my nails done, I should get my hair done, I should do that recipe from Facebook, I should learn how to cook, I should take a class, I should finish my degree, I should find a man, I should find a better place to live, I should find a job that pays more, I should start an emergency fund, I should read that book, I should watch that movie.

The shoulds also turned easily into a case of the should nots. I should not have talked to that man, I should have never trusted him, I should have never told her my secrets, I should not have gone to that party, I should not have taken that last drink, I should not have ate so much, I should never do online dating again, I should not have let my child hang out with them, I should not have left him, I should have never married him.

The shoulding all over myself about life did not bring me anything but worry and regret. I was tired of the dark cloud sucking out every last bit of happiness left in my life. When I got tired of being worried and upset about the things I have done in my past things started to change. I decided to do something about all the shoulds. In truth I did not wake up the next day and everything changed. There were no birds were flying in my window to wake me and help me get dressed like Cinderella and prince on my door step. However, through a little work and discipline I learned to make life better for my child and I.

The first thing I did was clean house. I got rid of things from my past that I had hung on to. This ranged from old photos, types of clothes I did not wear or fit into, and various gifts that reminded me of life I was no longer apart of. There were some things I kept but only things that really gave me a happy memory.

The second thing I did was remove myself from social media. I did not close my accounts but I did remove the apps on my phone. I made sure I had the phone numbers of close friends I still needed a support system. For me to not be on social media was by far the hardest part, but allowing myself to be just me without the input of hundreds was extremely helpful. I have done this various times throughout my life for various lengths of time. If you do not do anything else give yourself some time away. Even if you can only truly disconnect on Saturday and Sunday each week, or the evenings when you get home. The idea here was not to fill it with a thousand other things to do but rather to spend more time with your kids and yourself. 

The third thing I did was forgave myself and encouraged myself. I forgave myself for all the stupid choices I have made and all the plans I changed. Real forgiveness heals your soul. I began to write the things I wanted to forgive myself for and people who had hurt me. When I had forgiven them and myself I used a shredder on the list as a physical way of erasing my past. I also began to encourage myself with quotes and scripture. I wrote them on cards and I put them every where. I put them in the kitchen, bathroom, my bedroom, my car, my purse, and books I was reading. I surrounded myself with the positive words I needed to hear and I let them seep into my heart. 

After I done a few of these things the flood gates opened in my mind. I could make goals again about things I really wanted to accomplish and could see a new clear vision for my life again. This process is something I have continued to do throughout my life when I find a case of the shoulds coming on. Above all give yourself a break momma, be yourself, and do what you can. Regret builds mountains and love tears them down.

-Esme Alburn

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