We tyrannize ourselves with shoulds.
All of these cognitive distortions, typically inherited from social and cultural expectations, tell us a story about where we think our lives ought to have be by a certain time or a certain age.
Spencer, the brilliant award winning actress, delivered an inspiring commencement speech about this very topic:
She told the students that what defines you now will be mere shades and hues of a more vibrant you over the next five or ten or fifty years. There is nothing more liberating than knowing that your life will look differently than you think it will.
The problem is, we’re constantly bombarded and indoctrinated with shoulds. From the media, from culture, and especially from each other. Everyone is telling us that everything in our life should fall into place like a perfectly choreographed puzzle.
Our turbulence in our teens, our career ambitions in our twenties, our finances and romances in our thirties, our families in our forties, and so on.
But if history has shown us anything, it’s that human beings are notoriously lousy at predicting how the future will go, and what will make them happy when they get there.
We’re just guessing. All of us. Nobody knows anything. The best we can do is meet reality on reality’s terms, join the waterfall of life happening in each moment, and be grateful that we’re still around to enjoy it.
Because if we’re always waiting on something to happen or someone to appear, according to some imaginary timetable we cobbled together when we were twelve years old, then we are going to miss our lives.
My friend recently got engaged to his longtime girlfriend. But after proposing, rather than weeping with joy, his fiancé became instantly furious.
Turns out, dude waited a little too long to pop the question, and now their wedding date won’t be until next summer, which is several months after the woman’s thirtieth birthday.
And that is not okay with her. All of her friends and sisters and cousins got hitched before they turned thirty, and she simply can’t handle that.
Enough with the shoulds. Everything didn’t need to fall into place a long time ago.
Remember, the greatest path to personal fulfillment is our ability to accept that our musts aren’t everybody else’s shoulds. That their expectations and milestones don’t have to escalate into our absolutistic and unachievable demands.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What if you believed that you had plenty of time to do, be and have everything you wanted?