Journalling and Shoulds

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

5 ways it helps and why not giving yourself rules is the best – no amount of pages, no amount of words, don’t have to write every day, doesn’t have to start the same every day, doesn’t have to be well written or good handwriting, doesn’t have to be a fancy book or you don’t have to use a fancy pen. The best thing I did was say to myself, I don’t care what I write, how much I write, when I write, what it looks like. This is for no one else and I may never even bother reading it again. It is for me right now in this moment because I need help with my anxiety. That can be applied to so many other things. Want to doodle to relieve stress? Just go for it! Want to sing? Just sing and let it out… Want to read? Don’t make a rule that you HAVE to read a chapter or you HAVE to read 10 pages. Maybe you just read a couple of paragraphs and you feel better (who cares?!.

Giving ourselves ‘shoulds’ all the time is damaging. Yes, discipline is good and keeps us motivated and inspired. Yes, sometimes I say to myself, look Lucy, you haven’t been to the gym for two weeks now, you really should do it. Of course discipline is good and deadlines are good. But also, what are we trying to prove and who are we trying to prove it to?! So what if I didn’t do my hour of yoga today and watched ‘Friends’ instead? Does that mean I’m lazy and terrible and should punish myself and do two hours of yoga tomorrow? No. You are allowed to let things slide sometimes. As long as it doesn’t get out of control, what does it matter? We are humans, HUMANS. Sometimes, we are low in energy… sometimes we feel like being a little naughty and watching a film when we should be working out… sometimes we end up having that burger for dinner when we’d planned to have something healthier… We should not be beating ourselves up for these things, we should be embracing them, because THAT IS LIFE, and we are human, and we are here on this planet to enjoy our time. Then the next day, you probably think… right today I fancy a salad and I might pop out for a little jog. Next thing you know, you are in your healthy routine again and no one got hurt, and you watched a brilliant film.

We put SO much pressure on ourselves to be perfect and not deviate from routine. It can be exhausting and unhealthy. I used to micromanage myself in this way. “Oh you can’t miss the gym because then you will be that lazy person forever”, “Oh you really should be working 8am-7pm every day because that means you are a hard worker”… and the list went on. But the only person I caused damage to was myself. These are ingrained beliefs we gain as a child or through learning what society tells us. Who cares if I miss the gym one day? NO ONE. I can go the next day. And if someone does care and makes you feel bad about that, then that is their problem. We have to live our lives freely and enjoy them, as well as keep that discipline required to achieve our goals.

Are you a ‘should’ person? Is it time to take a like at your list of ‘shoulds’ and relax them a bit? Or reduce them? Think about who you do the should for and why, and what benefit there is. And maybe, add some nice ‘shoulds’ that take care of you. You could add “dancing” or “calling a friend for a chat”.

Society tells us that we should be doing so much and all these things and get up at 5am and go to bed at midnight. Maybe some people do that and they are ok, but many of us really succumb to that pressure and it works against us. Also, take a look at yourself and have a bit of sympathy for yourself? “Lucy you poor thing, you need a little break from this”. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a friend, and give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve done, and a hug to tell yourself it’s ok.

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