Monday, April 30, 2018

Stop "Shoulding on Yourself"! Start Treating Yourself Well

"Shoulding" on oneself  is a form of thinking about oneself in harsh, unkind, unfair and judgmental ways. Below are three common manifestations of this type of self "shoulding". Also provided are strategies to  transform such thinking into healthy, self-loving, self-compassionate, reasonable and empowering attitudes.

I. Unhealthy, Negative or "Stinking Thinking": "I Should (do something)"
Do you attempt to motivate yourself to accomplish something by telling yourself about what you "should do" (or other obligatory and self-judgmental terms, such as "ought to", "got to", "must" and "need to", etc.)?  This for of thinking is self-critical and unkind toward self. Instead, it sets you up to fight internally because you hear yourself commanding yourself to perform. This places undue pressure on oneself and results in added stress.

I. Healthy, Self-Compassionate and Self-Loving: "I Want"
Instead, embrace and tell yourself what you "want" (or any form of desire). In other words, give yourself permission to aim for those things that will contribute to your satisfaction. Recognize that wanting (or any form of desire) is more likely to propel and mobilize us toward a goal.  It also promotes thinking that opens up the possibilities and inspires positive motivation and optimism. Allow yourself to feel deserving and capable of attaining your goals. Be okay with treating yourself well. It sets the standard for how you will allow others to treat you.

 II. Unhealthy, Negative or "Stinking Thinking": 'I should do (usually some form of work or unpleasant task) something other than enjoying myself in the moment "
Do you find yourself having difficulty relaxing; taking a break or enjoying free time and pleasant activities because you think and tell yourself that there is something else you "should" be doing?
This is a failure to be kind and reasonable toward oneself and one's well being.


II. Healthy, Self-Compassionate and Self-Loving: "I am doing something healthy and good for myself by taking a break or having fun. I am taking good care of myself"  

Recognize that it is your responsibility and right to take good care of yourself.  Research shows that taking breaks, engaging in relaxing and enjoyable activities, having fun and laughing contribute to reducing stress and increasing well-being. This enables us to have healthy balance in our lives and restores and re-energizes us to more effectively handle and cope with life's demands. So, tell yourself that relaxing empowers you to experience better health and feel good.



III. Unhealthy, Negative or "Stinking Thinking": "I Should Be Further Along in Life" or "I Should Be As Successful As My Peers (or any other persons, against whom you are comparing yourself)"
Do you beat yourself up because you have not yet attained the success or progress you wish and instead, focus on feeling that you "should" be much farther ahead; or worse yet, negatively compare yourself to others and think that you "should" be at least where they appear to be.

This is also a form of erroneous expectations and unfair treatment of oneself. In the first instance, the disappointment in oneself overshadows one's self-compassion and therefore interfere's with one's ability to capture progress and move ahead.  Comparing oneself negatively against someone else is a no-win attitude. We cannot live according to another's standard or walk in someone else's path. We can only be our best. So, refrain from using others as your measuring stick.  In both instances, feelings of depression and anxiety are likely that further interfere with one's ability to see and actualize one's best self.

III. Healthy, Self-Compassionate and Self-Loving: "I have made progress and can continue to strive toward the success I want."  

This healthy form of thinking enables one to recognize that they may already be on their path toward who they wish to become. It embraces the person's desires, dreams and the possibilities.  It is also important that one recognizes ways they have achieved progress  and are a lot closer to attaining and fulfilling one's dreams and aspirations than at some previous point in time. A self-compassionate attitude also embraces a healthy sense of our shortcomings (not being perfect) and that where it is appropriate to ask for help or tap into external resources. Validating one's own path and valuing oneself and well being enables one to be their best self.



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