I’ve just started a book that a co-worker and friend loaned to me. She said it has been a gamechanger for her outlook. Definitely curious to read it after she said that! It’s entitled, You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay. For more than 30 years Louise Hay taught and wrote about discovery and implementing our full potential in life, through personal growth and self-healing. We hear lots about personal growth every week, and it’s that term ‘self-healing’ that sounds very interesting! Looking forward to getting through it!
One of the themes that jumped right out immediately in the first chapter was how the author, says, “When we are very little, we learn how to feel about ourselves and about life by the reactions of the adults around us.” That one got me right in the heartfeels…a story for another time. It’s not about blame though. It is about us learning more about ourselves. About our personal origins. Learning more about the ‘why’ behind the things we do. About the thought and behaviour patterns that have brought each of us to the exact spot we’re at today in our own lives. Awareness.
No one else is responsible for our decisions and behaviours in our own life and for where we are now. Only ourselves. To be clear, that’s not blame. That’s not saying we encouraged certain specific things, just that we are now responsible for how we react and carry on. Responsibility is not blame or fault.
As much as I can blame someone else for my shortcomings, I must realize that I am the one choosing every thought, every emotion, every behaviour, every action. And further, the other person’s reaction, energy, emotions, and behaviours toward me are simply a reflection of the energy and attitude I’m choosing to project toward them. A mirror! Interesting stuff.
With that in mind, one of the most interesting exercises that Hay describes early in her book, which I encourage you to do right this second, is the “should” exercise. It’s very liberating. I hope you take five minutes right now and do this. The chances you come back to it later are about seven per cent. So let’s do this now.
Grab a pen and paper and at the top write, “I SHOULD”. Then list a handful of things that you feel you “should” do. Just finish the sentence that starts with “I SHOULD”. Stop reading right now — please go ahead and do this exercise.
OK, now that you have your top five responses (or however many), next ask yourself “WHY?” to each one. Why should I do that? Why is it important? You may choose to ask the ‘why’ question two to three times for each one to get down to the root of why it is on your list. Write it down beside.
In truth, many of your “shoulds” are on your list because someone else (a parent? a friend? a sibling? a teacher?) told you in the past that it was important. But maybe it’s not anymore (or never was!). Or perhaps it’s a fear that something bad will happen if you don’t do it. Or that you must do it to be closer to perfect. Yuck — that’s a loaded word. “Perfect”. So many of us struggle with the need to be perfect. So many of us struggle with “I’m not good enough; I need to be better/more/perfect”. It’s just our ego telling us that. And advertising. Decide if the ‘should’ is important for you.
Once you answer the ‘why’ questions for each statement, you’ll likely have at least one ‘aha’ moment that sheds light on where you can let go of a “should”. Crumple that “should” up and throw it away! Lighten your load. Dump the expected things that mean little to you. Take the weight off. You’ve got enough truly important priorities to explore.
For the “shoulds” that remain, or that you truly don’t want to let go of right now, there’s a part B to this exercise. Email me (see below) if you want to know what that is. Not because I said so. Only if you want to. Only if you feel like it’s good for you. Only if it’s about self-care. Only to liberate. Not because you should. But because you could.