Yesterday, I wrote about secret code phrases for should. Some being “the smart thing to do” or the “healthy thing to do” or “a good idea to do” are all ways of secretly should’ing on ourselves.
What you feel you should do isn’t necessarily a problem. Eating healthy is a fine goal, even if it begins from the place of it being something that you should be doing.
The trouble is that that’s usually where we end our own motivation. We don’t grow our inspiration from the seed of should — we just let that be sufficient, and then jump into planning, action and doing.
In fact, we usually start into something like eating healthy or getting more exercise after resisting it and hating on ourselves for so long that by the time we are ready to try something new, we’re impatient and can barely stand the way we’ve been showing up. We don’t have much capacity to slow down and create a compelling reason to do something — we need to already be doing it, and to have achieved the goal in about three days time.
Doing something because you should is just a sexier sounding version of trying to force yourself to do something. Your motivation doesn’t come from within — it comes from without.
We get a bit caught in this vortex because our childhood is largely a function of what we should do. Our parents tell us to clean our room, and we do it, not because we want to, but because we’ll get in trouble or nagged if we don’t do it, or because we’re rewarded when we do.
We don’t get weaned off of this very well (in fact, if you spend time with your family of origin, you’ll probably notice how quickly you revert to seeking approval or avoiding disappointing them).
People attempt to set goals for themselves from the same places, but because they no longer have a nagging parent or guardian to stand behind them and force them along, those goals tend to be short-lived.
Sometimes, we marry spouses and get into relationships where our spouse can pick up the role that our parents once had for us, and push this forward a little further.
But all of this is just trying to force ourselves to do something. It never really works.
Our lives transform when we shift from a context of what we should do (which requires some degree of forcing ourselves), to a context of what we want to do.
Creating that shift requires real work.
It requires that we create compelling visions for ourselves — visions that inspire us to step forward into our fear and our resistance. Even writing that vision can be confronting. If you’ve spent your life repeating the mantra that what you want is less important than what you need to do, you might have resistance to creating a vision that inspires you.
And so step one becomes being willing to sit down and create a compelling reason for yourself to write out a vision for your life that is inspiring.
A compelling reason isn’t something like “Well, I don’t want to keep sitting here feeling sorry for myself.”
That’s just a complaint about you, and how you’re currently living your life. Another version of what you should do, because where you are currently is wrong.
A compelling reason would be more like “I want to live a life where I’m set free by the decisions I make. I want to live a life where I’m inspired by everything I choose, and doing that is going to require that I begin creating inspiring visions for myself. I want to live a life where I relate to the resistance I feel as spiritual training. And I’m going to start creating that life today.”
That context provides you a reason other than “should” for overcoming your resistance.
And that’s when your life begins to change.
You don’t have to take my word for it — keep trying to force yourself to shift, and see how it goes.