Let’s all loosen our grip on our preconceived ideas of where we “should” be right now. Let’s take a moment to honor where we are at.
We may be grieving. That sacred process deserves so much time and love and spaciousness. If you are grieving, I see you, I honor you, and I support you.
If we are parents, we may be feeling the stress of being constantly on call- caring, giving, teaching, and inevitably losing our patience sometimes. All of the time we spend on parenting has value even if we don't see the results in a tangible form like money or praise or a finished product. Raising the next generation is a hero's task in these times.
I also honor that some people are working harder than ever right now as essential workers as well as those who can work from home. Your flexibility and resilience is so important. We appreciate all that you are doing.
Others are heeding the call of their bodies to rest more, to play more, to experience being rather than constantly doing. In my opinion, that rest has value. Our bodies love a chance to decompress and build up our reserves. And if we can bring awareness and intention to heal, rest can also shift our state of consciousness to help us become a more calm, centered, and generous human being. Our presence may even become an anchor of trust for those around us who are swimming in fear and uncertainty.
And if you are someone who is treading through all the difficult emotions and economic uncertainty right now, my wish is for you to honor where you are at as well. Today I am feeling centered, but I may be crying through my breaking point tomorrow. Collectively, we are experiencing so much fear and upheaval, which certainly can intensify our personal struggles. But let this be a lifeline to grab onto: through crisis we can choose to evolve into truer, more conscious versions of ourselves. Through struggle we see the old patterns that are no longer serving us and let them be replaced by more effective ways of being.
Photo by Mosa Moseneke
And one of the patterns so many of us carry is feeling we “should” be doing something else with our time. We are resting, but we feel we “should” be working. We're playing, but we feel we “should” be doing chores. Or when we're doing the important task of experiencing our difficult emotions, we may get stuck in feeling we “should” be more blissful or relaxed or happy.
Let me be clear that I'm not suggesting we stop working or doing service or doing chores. And I am certainly not in favor of shutting down happiness and bliss when that naturally arises! I am suggesting we start to value how we are spending our time in every given moment.
We can learn to appreciate where we are at by getting clear on our values. We can ask ourselves: is this activity important to me? What experience may it bring and how does that align with my values? For example- I value feeling comfortable in my home. I notice I feel more stressed when my bathroom or kitchen or bedroom gets beyond a certain threshold of messiness. So even though I'm not someone who gets excitement from cleaning, I can value the activity as something important to me when the energy to clean arises. The process feels so much more spacious when the motivation comes from within myself.
“Shoulds,” on the other hand, usually come from trying to align with external expectations. We may unconsciously be going by a societal example of what a “good” parent or worker or person should be doing with their time. Or we may be trying to comply with someone else's particular expectations for what our home needs to look like, our work needs to look like, or our lives need to look like.
If we want to find more peace with where we are at, this is a process of unlearning. We are releasing the fear of not following external expectations. Whenever we think, “I should be doing something else,” we can ask ourselves: is the task I feel bad about not doing at this exact moment important to me? Does it align with my values? If it does, I can trust that I will get it done when the time is right. The “should” does not need to encroach upon my joy when I am playing with my kids, or making music, or painting, or lying down. Ideally, I can just enjoy what I am doing while I am doing it.
I call it a process because I have been working on dissolving the word should from my vocabulary for more than 15 years. And it still comes up for me! Over time, the shame that I feel in my abdomen when I fear I'm not doing what I “should” be doing has become less ferocious and less frequent. I can give myself compassion for being human and taking all the time I need to unlearn my conditioning.
And that is my wish for us all: that we may nourish ourselves with self-compassion. Please know that your presence in our human family is valued and honored, whether your contributions are seen or unseen. However you are spending your time, whatever struggles you are enduring, wherever you are at, let us honor this moment in time.