Tucan of freedom.

Escape the Snare of Should

Tucan of freedom.

Stuck. Obligation. I can’t move forward.

I wanted to build the practice of meditation. I knew it would be good for me — that it would bring calm, strength, and awareness. I knew the steps and process to take — having read a couple helpful books on it. But I struggled.

The problem was not an issue with information. It was an issue with motivation. I meditated out of a sense of obligation. And it became one more thing to do in an already full schedule.

Instead of being the source of joy and peace, meditation filled me with dread. On the few times I succeeded in practicing, I couldn’t concentrate. It felt forced – like I was a caged bird. Instead of lifting my spirits, it trapped me.

And every day I didn’t meditate weighed on me even more. I felt bad for not practicing. Was I not trying hard enough? Was I not doing my best?

I knew I should meditate.

cramped
movements back and forth
bound
by walls of wire

Make the practice a habit. Instead of relying on willpower or mental strength, build it into your day.

Start small. Make the practice so easy you couldn’t not do it. And if you reach that low marker, declare victory and be done for the day.

Give yourself grace. If you miss a day, forgive yourself and move on. It happens.

As I began my meditation habit, I committed to just a few minutes a day. And on days I felt tired, I gave myself permission to practice for only one minute. Several months later, the habit continues.

***

It took me two years of writing to realize that I didn’t have to do it alone. I did everything myself. And if I got stuck, I would try and fight through it. Often that ended in me giving up — discouraged.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have amazing people around me to ask for help. It wasn’t that these people were unable to guide me. It wasn’t that my challenges were somehow unique and others have never faced them before.

I believed I should have been strong enough to do it by myself.

alone
snared by tightened wire
while
the other birds fly free above

Recognize that this should also goes by the name pride.

Remember that we are already dependent on others — even if we don’t think we are. Nothing we do is completely of our own power.

Acknowledge that people that would love to help. By not asking them, we rob them of an opportunity to be a blessing. We fail to give them their joy.

Recently I joined a writing group. Besides the value of their feedback and encouragement, I’ve enjoyed their company on the journey. I’m not as alone.

***

When I evaluate my web-design business, it’s easy to get discouraged. I feel like I’m not that far along. I feel like I’m not making progress.

Much of that comes from looking at other people. With the internet it’s easy to compare to how other people are doing. And I can assure you many people are doing far more than me. They’re making more money. They’re impacting more people. More. More. More.

I feel like I should be farther than I am.

tired
from trying to build an eagle’s nest
although
the bird’s a sparrow

Acknowledge that the comparison isn’t a fair one. Sure, it’s good to look at the best for inspiration and encouragement. But often, we’re comparing our struggles to the successes of others. We ignore that they struggled too. We ignore the differing set of circumstances between us and them.

Compare yourself to where you were. In the last year, what progress have you made? What have you learned? Celebrate that.

A year ago, I hadn’t made a single dollar with my business. That I’ve brought in enough to keep a roof over my head is a big step.

***

Should is a dangerous word. It sucks the joy out of life. It fills us with shame about who we are and who we are not. It makes us feel we are not enough. It sets us up for failure.

But the shoulds don’t have to trap us. By recognizing them for what they are, we can let go. We can choose instead to approach life with generosity, love and gratitude.

free yourself
choose to let go
take flight

###

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