Are your “have tos,” “must dos,” and “shoulds” stressing you out?
We all have real have tos in life like taking care of our children, acting responsibly on our job, and paying our bills.
But we often add another layer of have tos that have been created by our imaginative mind from seeds planted way in the past. These have tos may be unconscious or semi-conscious. They can make you feel like you’re living inside a pressure cooker.
- Feeling like you must stick to a deadline you’ve created in your own mind when it won’t really hurt to give yourself a few more days. And, in fact, the extra space might make you more creative and productive.
- Feeling like you must complete your to-do list every single day although it’s a mile long and takes you till 10 o’clock at night.
- Feeling like you must clean every nook and cranny of the house before your dinner guests arrive, when an 80% job would be just fine.
Do you have your own versions of have tos, must dos, and shoulds?
These internal rules can make you feel constantly under the gun. They can also adversely effect your self-esteem when you’re not able to live up to your own self-created expectations.
Often, when you feel a have to, must do or should, it indicates something you really don't want to do. That's interesting, isn't it?
These internal demands represent a mix of obligations, habits, and expectations that have hardwired themselves into your identity. But are they still valid right now, reasonable, and enriching to your life?
Imagine how relaxing it would be to let go of a few of the artificial have tos in your life!
Question Your "Have Tos"
Make a list of your “have tos.” It doesn’t have to be exhaustive, just list the most pressing items that come to your mind that feel more like deep-seated habits, patterns, or expectations that may no longer be relevant or helpful in your current life.
Also, in daily life, pay attention to each time you tell yourself "have to," "must do," or "should." Jot a note and include those on your big list.
Then, question each have to on your list.
- Ask: “Why must I do this?”
- Explore: “Is there a better alternative?
- Consider: “What would happen if I didn’t do this?”
At the end of the process, select the have tos that can take a hike, and eliminate them from your life one-by-one.
This process may excite you. Or you might find it challenging since these have tos have been some of your personal laws for years. If you find it difficult, be gentle with yourself and keep at it. It will get easier with time, and you'll find more ease and space with each step you take.
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