Ditching the Should’s

Posted by on February 27, 2022

Ditching the Should’s

This is part 2 in a three part series. Part 1, about “who are you?,” is here.

In my late 30s, I worked with a therapist who helped me untangle who-I-was from who-I-should-be. It took a while, since I’d spent a long time trying to be who I thought I should.

During the process, I offered to share a vision board I’d made with my therapist, since I thought it described who I was. At our next meeting I toted in the board and proudly presenteded my work of art. She took a quick look at it and largely dismissed it. She could tell immediately that this painstakingly curated visual was what I wanted other people to think of me. (Side note: this is not how you create a vision board. The correct process is more fun and a lot quicker!)

I could tell that I had failed the assignment. So at the next meeting, I shyly shared a brightly colored polka dot piece of fabric, and said that this is who I was on the inside. Her eyes lit up. Now we were getting somewhere!

The linen fabric was about a yard square; fuchsia and lime green; wildly patterned with plenty of polka dots. It was colorful, cheerful and bold. Some might say it was obnoxious or even ugly.

And there it was. I was so afraid to be found unlikable by some, that I was willing to put away the best parts of myself. I was trying to be who I thought other people wanted me to be (based, no doubt, on my wrong assumptions). The truth was, when I let more of my colorful, inner polka-dotted self shine, my relationships with others deepened – especially the important ones.

Will I be everyone’s cup of tea? No way! And that’s all right. Because the great thing is, being the real me takes a lot less energy. And that piece of fabric that I loved? I love it still. And I still have it. But I ditched the vision board.

If you are stuck in the should’s you might notice you do a lot of stuff you don’t want to or that you are controlling your behavior tightly. You may spend a lot of energy pleasing others or trying to make others see you in a certain way. We do this to keep ourselves safe and to ensure others won’t leave us; of course, that safety is an illusion and we can’t control what other people do. Scary? Yes. Liberating? Yes!!

Think about who you think you should be (and who you are trying to please). What does that carefully controlled version of you look like? Now think about who you are. The whole glorious, messy masterpiece. I hope you choose to keep that version front-and-center and let more of it show.

And ditch the should’s!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching.