Stop Shoulding on Yourself

I should run more.

I should wake up earlier.

I should go to bed sooner.

I should meditate.

I should stop eating junk food.

I should be eating more salads.

I should write more.

I should read more non-fiction.

I should stop wasting time on my phone.

I should clean out the hall closet.

I should organize my office.

I should be saving more money.

Someone really smart (okay. I can’t lie to you guys. It was my therapist) told me recently that I need to stop shoulding on myself. Not only is this hilarious, but it’s sound advice.

I’ve heard many times over the years that you shouldn’t talk negatively to yourself (once more with the shoulds!). I never really understood that. I mean, I do understand it. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t internally say stuff to yourself like “you’re fat,” “you shouldn’t wear that outfit,” or “you’re a loser.” You wouldn’t say those things to someone else, so why are you saying them to yourself (and if you would say them to someone else, then we’re not friends. Stop reading this. Please).

There are people who speak that negatively to themselves. And that’s sad, and heartbreaking, and terrible, and I wish they wouldn’t. I wish they had stronger self-esteem. I wish they saw value in themselves and understood that they are wonderful and beautiful and smart and capable.

But I didn’t realize that all of those shoulds are also negative talk. It’s a way to bring myself down. All of those thoughts are heavy, and make my brain feel dead.

So I’m working on not shoulding on myself.

First thing: I’m going to give myself a break. In all honestly, life is fucking hard. No one warned me. No one told me that life was a big ball of stress and reports and deadlines and shitty people and being tired and worrying that you’re not good enough. I’m not unique with these feelings. Everyone has them.

But movies made me think that being a grownup meant lots of sex, and friends, and money, and sex, and vacations, and sex.

So when real life is stress, I’m going to be more flexible. If I’m too tired to wake up early to run, then I’ll sleep in and not run that day. Or I’ll work to fit a run into a later part of my day if I can. If not, then oh well. There’s always the next day.

If I’m too busy to go to the store to buy fresh veggies, then oh flipping well. Maybe I’m gonna eat fast food once (or twice) a week. That doesn’t make me a monster. Or fat. Or gross. Or ugly. Or any of the other things eating junk makes me feel.

If I just can’t bear to read a non-fiction book, then I read a fiction one. I’ll read another awful Buffy novel, or a classic children’s book that I somehow missed as a kid, or a spicy murder mystery. Maybe I’ll listen to the groundbreaking non-fiction as an audio book. That seems to be the only way I can get through those since grad school. At least I’m still reading something, even if it isn’t award-winning literature.

And If I don’t get around to cleaning out my closet, then who cares? It’s been messy for a while now. What are a few more weeks (or months or a year)?

BUT, I am still going to work on the things I want for myself. I want to run more. So I am. I’ve committed to running at least three times a week. I don’t need to run fast. In fact, Matt Fitzgerald, author of 80/20 Running: Run Strong and Race Faster by Training Slower, straight up told me I can run slow (Okay, he didn’t so much as tell me, but rather wrote a book about it, but I’m reading it as if he’s speaking directly to me because that doode gets me!).

And I am going to try to eat better. I’m working of cutting out oil from my cooking (if I’m eating out, whatever). I’m trying to bring raw fruits and veggies to snack on during the day. I can only think of carrots and a raw veggie options. I tried eating cucumbers, but then I was honest with myself and stopped buying them because cucumbers are gross you guys, and I don’t want to eat them! I also tried celery (meh) and radishes (big nopers). I guess raw lettuces and leafy greens count, so good on me every time I eat a flipping salad. But when the inevitable day come when I’m stressed, and late, and running around with a million things to do, I may go through a drive-thru. Big deal. I’ll work to plan ahead and avoid those pitfalls, but I’m only human.

There are more things that I can work on, but for right now, those are my two. Well, I guess this blog is three. I’m going to write. I’m going to write a post at least once a week, maybe twice. I’ll keep you lovelies up to date on my physical and mental health. So I’ll eat, and run, and write, and I’ll give my self a break on the rest of those other shoulds for now.


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