Last year, I proclaimed 2013 the Year of the Bath. I made a conscious decision to take long, luxurious baths often. I made time for it, and it was good. It was the practice of self-care that needed to be named and honored in an albeit humorous and seemingly self-indulgent way. It made my friends and students laugh and shrug – “that’s nice!” It was indeed! Along with this bath ritual came a greater inclination to take quiet nights in, to order the books I’ve been wanting to explore and actually enjoy them, taking my time, alone. It was the year I donated and did not replace my television set. It was the year that I kept monthly appointments with a massage therapist. It was the year that restorative yoga and a simple pattern of forward folds became not an occasional balm, but an essential part of my bedtime ritual. It was the year I recognized and started the heartwork of unraveling some deep samskaras. It was good and necessary and ultimately revealing of opportunities for greater healing. The Year of the Bath was POWERFUL. I highly recommend it.
I have named 2014 the year of “Don’t Should Yourself.” I hear my friends, students, and my own inner voice saying things like “I guess I should ____” It’s anything and everything from marriage, finances, jobs, relationships, body image, housekeeping, to feelings and emotions like happiness and emotional and spiritual healing. “I should be happy. I should be having fun. I should be thinner. I should have known better. I should practice every morning. I should apply for that job. I should just get over it.” “Should-ing” yourself to be something other than what you are? Not so helpful, my friends. Ever notice that when you don’t do a “should,” there are icky feelings like guilt, self-doubt and self-criticism not far behind?
I’m not suggesting that healthy striving and goal-setting isn’t helpful. It’s an important part of growing as a person. What I’m suggesting is an opportunity to put lid on the judgment and check your assumptions and the roots of those thoughts. To be more aware of the self-talk and self-criticism. To build enough awareness to look at those thoughts and say - “Hey – do I really believe that? Where did this idea come from? Is it mine? Do I really want that?” If it is a legitimate and heartfelt desire, consider changing your “should” to “want to,” and take mindful steps to achieve it. And if not – if it’s some leftover construct that you don’t choose to embrace, if it's someone else's values and not yours, if it’s comparing or competing, throw it out, stat. Because it’s taking up space, and holding you back from your “want to” and “need to.” It is sucking energy from your heartfelt intentions, your self-compassion (which is essential to being compassionate toward others!) and your own growth and wholeness.
So that’s it, friends. This year, let’s practice this way: Don’t Should Yourself! I’m on this journey with you.