You should be excited
You should want this
You should have responded how I expected you to
You should act like anyone else would in this situation
You shouldn’t have said that
You shouldn’t have done that
You shouldn’t be authentic to who you are.
It took me a while to realize the impact should-ing was having on me. It took me time to process the words I was hearing, the feelings I was having, the reactions I was receiving.
It took me a while to grasp what was actually happening on the inside for me.
“Someone else would have never responded that way…”
“Someone else would have been happy…”
It’s a strange feeling that comes up when you’re told what kind of person you should be and how “someone else” would be. It’s intrinsically confusing. It’s heartbreaking. It’s cruel. And what came up for me, was shame.
Shame showed its ugly face when I started to hear who I should be, instead of being accepted as I am.
I started to shame myself for not responding how I should have. For not responding how a normal person would respond. For not feeling how I was supposed to feel. I felt shame because the person I authentically showed up as was different than what was expected of me, wasn’t good enough, and therefore, the person I was, was wrong.
So the internal debate began. Do I stand true to myself and honor my feelings, needs, wants? Do I conform to make others happy? Do I put on a front to avoid an awkward situation? Or the really shaming feelings of… are they right? Am I wrong for feeling this way? Am I a bad/wrong/evil person because that’s what came up for me? And the spiral of internalize the shame begins, and, it’s devastating.
Under no circumstances does this behavior exemplify love.
Friends, there’s nothing more joyful than being accepted for who you are. Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% in support of personal growth and surrounding yourself with people who want to encourage you to be the best you can be. But the key word here is encourage. I recently heard the saying “people who really care about you don’t let you keep f*cking up” and I LOVE this. And considering I know the source of this saying – I know the intention of this saying is about encouraging accountability, not inflicting shame.
So, a note to the shoulders: Stop it. Stop telling people who they should be, how they should respond, how they should feel. But instead, lovingly stand beside them and try to understand them. Ask questions. Be curious. Show your invested interest in them. Approach with love, empathy, curiosity and love, always love. Did I mention show up with love? I can almost guarantee you’ll be met with an attitude of gratefulness, openness, vulnerability, trust, honesty, humility….
And to my friends who have experiences the should-ing: Be you. Be authentically you. Honor what comes up for you. Honor your feelings. Be curious about yourself. Ask yourself questions. There is absolutely no room for shame in love – and that includes the love you have for yourself! You are beautiful. You are great. You are wonderful. God created YOU just as you are, and you are perfect.