So this is the beginning of a long weekend. Monday is Presidents’ Day!
(And what might this mean for you, dear reader? Some long posts, perhaps?)
Where was I before that parenthesized warning?
Oh yes. I feel like I really need this long weekend, because the last few weekends have had much more stress than usual.
Now, stress isn’t always bad. The way I’ve been defining Adventure in this blog is “something new,” and New-ness (and change in general) is inherently more stressful. Don’t you think?
Here’s why I haven’t had a “normal” weekend for a while. Last weekend, I was unexpectedly caught in South Carolina, due to the snowstorm. The weekend before was my 60th birthday party, which was great, but Packed With New-ness (and wonder). And several weekends before the Birthday Weekend, I was focusing on party-planning.
Phew! So it’s nice to be sitting on my couch this Saturday morning with a sense of routine and with nothing of note looming on the horizon. (Except for taxes, which I’m SURE I will blog about sometime within the next couple of months.)
So nothing is looming right now.
I’m really liking that word “looming” as a description of how it feels when there’s something big I think I should be dealing with.
However, as I’ve written in this blog — for example, waaaaaay back on Day 5 — SHOULDs can come up at any times, whether something big is looming or not. (BTW, you can find definitions of SHOULDs and the other 12 Cognitive Distortions, here).
Therefore, chances are that SHOULDs will come up for me, over this long weekend. Hmmmm. What might I do about that?
Cue trumpets, for an important announcement!!!
(Okay, now imagine the inspiring, heroic sound of a trumpet flourish.)
(Wait. Hold on. I wonder if there is a way to imbed a sound bite in a blog?) (Not that I’ve ever imbedded a sound into anything, yet.) (It’s another adventure!)
(Research, research, research…..)
All right. I think I’m ready for … Cue trumpets, TAKE 2!
Not sure if that worked, but — whether you’re hearing trumpets in your mind or actually hearing them in this post — here’s my announcement:
Friends, Readers, and Fellow Bloggers, lend me your ears. This weekend, I come to bury SHOULDs, not to praise them.
Or, to put this in another olde-fashioned, more heroic-type way:
I hereby declare myself a SHOULD Warrior. This weekend, I shalt venture forth and battle against Shoulds!!
Okay, now I have to arm myself for this quest. Here are four pieces of weaponry I can take with me:
#1: I shalt notice SHOULDs and name them as such.
For example, I am now naming a SHOULD statement that has already come up for me today:
I SHOULD send thank you notes for the gifts some people brought to the party.
#2: I shalt restate — or reframe — the SHOULD statement, in a helpful way.
For example, “I COULD write thank you notes. Instead, I CHOOSE TO ______ .” (Thanks to my friend Debbie T., who offered that great suggestion, in a comment she posted here. )
I’m realizing that I could fill in that blank (despite the word “Instead”) with the same action — writing the thank you notes. With this reframe, though, I am making a choice to write them, rather than adding to my stress with a SHOULD-ed obligation.
And that, my reader, makes all the difference.
# 3: I shalt think about the benefit to me if I do choose to take the action.
For example, if I do choose to spend time this weekend to figure out who left me gifts during the party and sending thank you notes, I’ll get a sense of closure about the party. Which I would enjoy.
# 4: I shalt let go of judgment (and regret or guilt) about the past actions which have contributed to this current situation.
I have definitely, already, been judging myself and feeling some regret and guilt about the party gifts. I have judged myself for not being “together” enough the night of the party to keep track of those gifts as people brought them. And I’ve also judged myself for Procrastinating about this since (see more about the dread P-word, here).
Right now, as I’m writing this to you, I feel like I need to make excuses. (For example, I wasn’t expecting people to bring gifts; I hadn’t planned to open gifts during the party, so I didn’t; I didn’t have a place to put them, so they got scattered; when I looked at them right after the party, some of the cards got separated from the gifts, yadda yadda yadda)
I’m going to let go of all that, right now.
And I’m noticing that I was definitely using some other SHOULD statements there (I SHOULD have been more aware of the gifts, I SHOULDN’T have gone away on my trip without figuring this out before I left, etc. etc.)
Oh, and here’s two more Cognitive Distortions I’m noticing in my thoughts about these thank-you notes: Mind Reading and Fortune Telling. That is, I’m worrying about my guests’ present AND future thoughts about my lack of responses about the gifts.
People are going to think I’m so lame because I haven’t sent thank you notes. And boy! They will REALLY think I’m lame if I send a thank-you note that says something like, “Errr, ummmm, , I don’t know what you gave me!”
This is what I’m thinking right now: How amazing is that? Look at what I’m doing! I’m projecting judgment onto wonderful and devoted friends of mine, who came to my birthday party to joyfully celebrate with me. Do I REALLY BELIEVE that these people are going to judge me like that? And if they do have a thought like that, won’t it pass? Won’t it just be one of a kashmillion thoughts they might have about me?
And now I’m realizing my worst fear, behind those thoughts.
My losing track of the gifts, and not writing thank you notes, might really damage these relationships.
Arrrrghh. Sometimes, I am just AMAZED, when I take a step back and look at a worst fear, like that.
Yes, it’s incredible to me — the primal, irrational fears that can lurk behind my Mind Reading, Fortune Telling, Shoulds, and other judgmental thoughts.
Well, what can I say? This is an on-going quest for me: letting go of SHOULDs, Mind Reading, and other unhelpful, judgmental thoughts.
It’s a difficult quest, and a noble one, indeed.
I feel like I rode some distance forward on this quest today, dear reader. Thanks for riding along beside me.
It’s been said that if you listen to all the shoulds you allow people to “should all over you.”
So I’m with you: down with should.