As I so often do these days, I sat down in my garden in order to start writing and read something inspiring, which I always do before I write my posts. It clicks me into the right mental space. So as I was leaning back on the garden bench I took the clip out of my hair and tousled my long hair without thinking.
Now, what does open hair have to do with this week’s topic you ask? Did you ever notice that when a film director wants to portrait a woman’s journey from hyper-controlled, super determined and all “shoulds” and “ought to’s” to calm, self-assured and resting in her own power in a movie he does so with the help of her hairstyle? It changes from perfect tight updo to loose, open, often curly hair. It seems the looser the hair the more relaxed the attitude. Is it that simple?
I had mentioned last week that I wanted to get out of the “shoulding”, so I decided to take the next two weeks and make them about what I want instead of what I should. I’m still in the process and the first week isn’t even over yet, but let me share some of the things I learned so far.
Shoulds have a lot to do with my expectations and the expectation I assume others have. I often feel I should do something in order to keep a relationship intact or to ensure that I am being loved/accepted/taken care of. I always thought that you have to live with your shoulds if you want to fulfill your duties, but I realize they are not inevitably one and the same. Shoulds are about our attitude towards something, while our duties are the reality that some things in life are our job to do/organise/get done.
Let me give you an example: My parents own a camper they need to clean out within the next few weeks, so they can sell it. They have used it for over 20 years so you can imagine all the stuff that needs to get looked at: keep, gift to someone or simply throw away? On the very first day of my “all I want” staycation we worked on this project, pretty much the whole day. I do feel it is my duty to help them get everything done in time, but it did not feel like a should that day! I wanted to help them. I enjoyed the time we had together and working with my parents. We bonded. We got a lot done. We laughed together and had fun. We were proud of ourselves and each other, and we celebrated with a fantastic dinner at a new Bavarian restaurant on the way home. We were thoroughly tired, but the energy spent was all worth it!
Wanting is the opposite of shoulding. Shoulds make everything heavy, rigid and more energy-consuming while wanting doesn’t necessarily always make things lighter per se, but surely makes things flow with more ease and even if it consumes energy, it also gives energy back. Wanting makes me feel alive. It engages with life rather than pressing it into a pre-fabricated mould of expectations. It is a playful dance with my creative forces instead of an imagined set of rules that need to be obeyed in order to fit in. Wanting creates motion while shoulds create tension and literal stiffness in my body.
The most interesting insight is that I can switch from shoulding to wanting on a dime! Since it is a matter of attitude it can be changed in a heartbeat. I can feel the change immediately in my body. My shoulders relax. My outlook on what I have to do is more positive. My whole system calms down. I just have to look at life and ask myself: “What do I want right now?” Seems quite simple after all!