Quit beating yourself up about it.
How often do we hear the words… “I really should quit smoking”. “ I really should lose some weight”. “I want to but I just can’t seem to do it right”.
They have to be examples of the LEAST motivational sentences every in the history of self depreciation. We should stop saying that!!!
SHOULD is a word dripping with judgement, self contempt, guilt, and it tells me that I am not good enough as I am. Should is a word of wishes; wishes that would be lovely if they ever happened. “Should”, is not an action word of the present, it is a wish for the future. It is basically lying to ourselves every time we say it… I should eat an apple instead of this chocolate I have in my hand… it basically means we are going to eat the chocolate anyway, but with a nice side helping of guilt.
Life is difficult enough, with so many curve-balls, the last thing we all need are self generated problems. This is especially so in the work place. Did you know, for example, that a teacher’s well being is one of the most important factors in a students success.
Consider picking up a hobby, for example, learn to play the Banjo
The incongruence between what we want and what we have to do to achieve it; is the “Should”. “Should”, takes away our choices, but importantly, it takes away our responsibility to ourselves. I “Shouldn’t” eat this chocolate (as I take a big bite) as opposed to “Right now I am making a conscious choice to eat the chocolate”. Or even better “so if I think I shouldn’t… then I make the choice to put it down and pick up the banana”. The second sentence allows us to take the responsibility upon ourselves for our daily choices; positive or negative. It empowers us to make the decision of our choice! If you don’t like the choices you are making, then change them. It is totally your choice each and every time.
How do we feel when someone else tells us what to do? How do we like to be nagged? Most people would say that if I am told I have to do something, I will nearly always do the opposite! “Who do they think they are talking to me like that telling me what I have to do?” “Can you believe that person told me I should lose some weight?”, “Listen to that person telling me I should quit smoking because I have a bad cough!” Ha!
Mostly, one of our responses is to counter their argument. To defend our current actions or to ‘show them’ by doing exactly what we damn well please!
I encourage you to have a listen to the way you speak to yourself. As soon as you “Should” yourself, you are talking to yourself the way that other person has spoken to you. Guess what? Your subconscious response is the same to yourself as it is to that other person too! Your subconscious mind says to yourself “Ohhh listen to that talk telling me what to do!” Yeah yeah whatever… I am going to do what makes me feel better right now. Eat the chocolate or have that cigarette, sit and watch the telly instead of going for a walk. I deserve it.
In that mindset, you have taken away your own choices by bullying yourself into making a negative choice and not taking responsibility for it. It happens without us even realising it. Give yourself back some choices in life. Acknowledge that you have the right to choose. Each time you make a choice, accept your own choices and your reason at that point in time.
So… I can still hear you asking… so Linda, are you saying to stop trying to better myself and just give in to my bad habits…. I have that answer. No.
I am not suggesting that you just give in, I am suggesting you give yourself back the power of choice. Each and every time you want a cigarette is your choice. Each and every time you notice yourself lighting up a cigarette (or eating the chocolate or whatever) and hear yourself saying “I really should quit”. The next question is “WHY?”
Ask yourself why you want to make a different choice? Why do you want to change that behaviour? If you hear yourself using should. Why should I? Then rephrase the self talk. I should give up ciggies? Why should I? Because I want to see my kids grow up and my cough is getting worse. Hmmm.. I want to stop coughing and smoking isn’t helping that.. do I want to have this cigarette in my hand? I have a choice right now. Make the next best choice.
Give yourself the choice each and every time. The next big change is… IF you decide YES! I want this. Then stop beating yourself up about it. Enjoy it. I hear people time and time again telling me that eating or smoking is their only nice thing they do for themselves. It relieves stress. We know deep down it doesn’t and we are continuing to lie to ourselves. If it really was so great, why are you “shoulding” yourself to stop?!
You know it is not the best choice but you have guilted yourself sooooo much, you can’t find a way out. It is the same concept as a Domestic Violence victim continually returning to the bad behaviour! I know it is bad but I can’t leave. I know the ciggies are bad but I can’t quit! YES YOU CAN… anyway, I digress. (If you are in a DV situation, please seek some professional assistance to help you cope).
IF you decide to choose to have the cigarette or the chocolate, then ENJOY IT! It is the choice you made for yourself today. For whatever reason, you took the responsibility upon yourself to choose to have a smoke today and decided that was the best thing for you right now. Allow yourself the opportunity for a different choice next time, but stop beating yourself up about the choice you made right now. If you don’t like it, then change your choice. Either way, give yourself a break. You will be more motivated by taking away the guilt.
The next step is to consciously concentrate on your choice. You chose to smoke or overeat or not exercise. That is a conscious process now that you are aware of the self nagging and the “Should”. So pay attention to your choice. Do nothing else except take pleasure in that smoke or that food. Sit with it alone. Do not speak to anyone, do not be on facebook, do not allow any interruptions, make your choice and enjoy it.
Really taste it. Feel it in your throat. Smell it. Look at it. Take it all in and accept that you made that choice right now to have this thing in front of you. If it really is your stress reduction, then use it as such. Don’t also do something else to de-stress at the same time, take the responsibility of your statement that the smoke or the chocolate or the sitting down is the stress release you say it is. Feel it go through your body, your stomach, your lungs, feel what it does to you for real.
Once you really sit with it, maybe you will need to do it less because you will have quality over quantity, perhaps you will know you can make a better choice next time, or perhaps you will change your mind half way through and butt it out or put the food down and go get that healthier choice, or go for a walk. When you make the healthier choice to get nearer your goals, also spend time with it and appreciate it and feel good about your healthier choice.
Either way; it is your decision to do what you do, for every decision you make influences your behaviour and your attitude toward yourself. Be free from your own inner negative self talk. Take back your right to choose, and be responsible for your behaviour.
Next time, make the right choice for yourself and do the best you can with what you have.
Remember, remove “Should” from your vocabulary. When you hear yourself saying “Should” ask Why? Then make the choice you want and enjoy it! Appreciate your right to make a choice. Sit with the activity and really concentrate on what you are doing!