The origin of Should Stress
Where it started…
I have been told my entire life by powerful and amazing women (and men) that I can absolutely have it all, family, career, home, social life. What and amazing time to be born into…freedom. Right?
Many women, like me, are grateful to the mothers and fathers who fought through the 60s & 70s, to empower us to believe we could do anything. And yet we now find ourselves butting up against the gender roles we grew up observing them play out.
“Everyone does the best they can with what they have.”
Our parents believed that things could be different for us…even if they felt it was too late for them. And as a result we now struggle to play out all the roles we observed to achieve all our (their) dreams. And we are failing, not knowing how to balance being 100% Mom, 100% Wife, 100% Career Women, 100% Homemaker, 100% Engaged in our communities…the math doesn’t work and the “shoulds” run rampant.
Our role models varied and that variety opened our minds to what humans, all humans can be truly capable of. And in response to generations of women being stifled, held back and forced to sacrifice; we the freedom generation have dutifully stepped up and claimed our place in every arena. However one small piece of the puzzle was missing from our generation’s education, missing from the script. How?!? How can we be it all and still honor our whole selves? How do we make the math work? Can we see all that we do as part of who we are instead of seeing who we are because of all that we do? Can we stop “shoulding” on ourselves?
What I desperately want…
“I want to no longer separate myself and become an entirely different person for each role I inhabit. I am exhausted from changing hats and my persona numerous times throughout the day. I want to choose to be whole. One person with an enormous skill set and passion for growth. I want to choose to wear one hat, my core values hat, and know that it fits every role.”
What I believe…
There is a reason we, driven, high-achieving, everything for everybody women are seeking out wholeness activities…yoga, practicing mindfulness, building meditation habits, exploring energy work, discovering creativity, engaging in ongoing (non-crisis) therapy…We are waking up and coming to terms with the idea that, although we (and our well-meaning role models) had great intentions we were (are) missing one crucial piece, the golden nugget…how we can be our whole-selves without trying to be more than our selves.
The part of us that knows we are stretching ourselves too thin, knows that the answer lies in aligning with who we truly are, seeks out these “wholeness” activities. Part of us knows that our conscious selves need to see that we do not have to live up to the shoulds of others, shoulds that we for some reason adopted. There is a part that knows that the shoulds or others are not our musts and that when we focus only on our musts…the actions that align with our core values, move us towards our highest selves and are purpose driven…we are able to break free of the shoulds.
Why it hurts…
Should stress is the agony and anxiety we feel when we are being pulled in every direction. Unable to focus our energy on something we feel that we truly want. Back up even further and the shoulds often keep us prisoner in a space where we can’t even identify what we truly want? When asked point-blank many of us are left feeling dumbfounded…and find ourselves amazed that we have no idea. We feel a duty to be productive and the shoulds lead us around by the nose. We feel like we don’t have control. The stress that ensues from this apparent lack of control often drives us to do more in an attempt to gain some back…vicious cycle.
What it sounds like in my head…
“I should be better at this, I should be a better mom, I should have the time to get this done, I should be able to handle all of this. All women are great multi-taskers, I should be able to get more done in less time. I should be more productive, more efficient. If I were just more productive and more efficient I would be able to get to all of the other things I should be doing. I should be spending more quality time with my children. I should want to have sex whenever the opportunity arises. I should be going to the gym 3 times a week. I should be making more home-cooked meals. I should be able to manage my department’s website. I should love my job. I should be more productive at work. I should be able to create newsletters my entire list wants to read. I should be doing a podcast by now. I should be making more money. I should be better at not wanting to escape my life. I should be better at meditating. I should be more consistent in my parenting. I should be taking care of my skin. I should go to the dentist more. My teeth should be whiter. I should book speaking engagements. I should I should I should I should…..fffuuuuuuuuuuuuckkkkkk!
What am I doing?
I wonder what we are modelling for our children…who are great mimics and terrible interpreters. Are we re-creating our experiences as children…verbally sharing the values of an informed and open parent while modelling behavior that circumvents our intentions or at the very least creates a dichotomy/disconnect between our values and our actions? Are we talking to our children about what we want, why we do what we do and why we want to choose wholeness” and “I want to over “l should do”?
What I want…
Breaking free from the “shoulds’ before they break me has been my ultimate goal for a very long time. I spent many years experiencing the negative impacts of stress, caused specifically from my constant shoulding. I have desired to feel a sense of balance, purpose and wholeness for longer than I can remember. An inner knowing of who I really am without feeling like I am not living up to some external expectation. A deep desire to love who I am just as I am, with personal expectations that align with my core values, move me towards the best version of me and are driven by my sense of purpose…to help others to connect with and honor their authentic selves.
As a mom of girls, I long for my children to have the knowledge I was not able to access as part of the “you can do anything” generation…how!
What do you want?
Do you want that for your children? For yourself? Start now. I believe that the number one way to impact and influence the next generation, our children, is to become the person we dream them to be…Problem-solving, risk-taking, courageous, compassionate, loving, transcendent beings who believe in being challenged and getting back up again. Who understand fear and don’t fear it. Doing so would be the greatest gift we can give them, ourselves and the universe.
What will you do?
Will you lean in, connect with others, reconnect to yourself? Will you listen to your gut and trust your intuition. Are you willing to break free from “should do” and live your life the way you “want to”.
How can I help?
Join me in the In Her Element group and catch Motivate – HER Monday LIVE (Feb 26th at 7pm) We’ll be taking the “Are you at risk for Should Stress“? QUIZ and together start on the journey to break free from the negative patterns that have been keeping us small.
All good things are rooted in love, laughter and learning!
PS Want to get to work right away? Click and book in your Free Connection Call and let’s get you out of the shoulds now!
PPS Looking to Connect in real-life with real live women who, like you, know that together we move faster and further then when we are on our own. Check out Wise Women Say…an empowering speaker series hosted by yours truly!!!