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Balancing Shoulds and Wants

18/03/2022


Balancing Shoulds and Wants

Is it time to do the things that we want to do - and forget the things we ought, should or need to do?

The answer for me is yes.

And I don't think I am being unrealistic.

I wrote last week about taking the big step of meeting new people en masse! All but one I had only met online.

It was, as one of our group observed, a bit like going on a blind date with 25 people.

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Taking about four hours to drive there, it was in a beautiful spot, and exciting to be there even though meeting people after two years being in virtual isolation was pretty tough.

However, there were no awkward moments, everybody got on really well, and it was a really special time with really lovely, aligned people, brought together by two wonderful people.

Okay, so the Youth Hostel we booked was pretty basic, and I can deal with that. Though it turned out there was an issue which tipped my balance...

Sleep

I'm a light sleeper and shared my room with two other light sleepers. We got to bed very late and a combination of disturbance by safety lights in the room and the entire water and waste system channelling its way through the walls of our rooms leading to unbelievable noise, led to a very thin night's sleep.

It reminded me of loooonnng nights when my eldest was a baby, had an undiagnosed milk intolerance and woke up coughing every 10 minutes for months on end - a gentle torture for him and for me.

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Add to that my already stretched autoimmune condition leaving me a little fragile most mornings, as I lay in bed contemplating getting up (and looking ahead to yet another sleepless night) I had a think through how to make the rest of the time away work for me, without me feeling totally under pressure. Pressure I anticipated as especially high on the Sunday morning when 25 people would be in a whirl trying to pack, clean and sort out the accommodation - and say emotional and fond farewells - all before chuck out time at noon.

Difficult for someone like me who can find myself hardly able to function until almost lunchtime if I don't have enough 'spoons' of energy.

Then it dawned on me: I had choices.

Choices
  • Do what I 'should' or 'ought' to do and stay. And that may have been okay, but from past experience I would have ended up on Sunday with compromised energy which would make a 4 hour drive back home very uncomfortable physically and emotionally - if not impossible which would be a really big problem (and I have previous form!)
  • Or I could do what I wanted to do. To enjoy as much of the day as I could before setting off that afternoon. I would arrive home in the early evening, with the opportunity to see my family, have a rest overnight and I'd still feel like I had a wonderful weekend away.

That second choice felt right.

  • I did not feel guilty.
  • I did not feel like a fool.
  • I didn’t feel like a victim.

It was the right thing to do, and the group of people I was in I felt I could trust not to judge me negatively.

Right Decision

It was the right decision for me.

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Tough to go out and about after two years, tough when I have autoimmune disease and tough when I was having issues eating and sleeping in a totally new experience for me in a Youth Hostel.

But not tough for me to decide to take my leave.

There have been plenty of situations where I have “manned up” or “worn my big girl pants”.

Times when I felt I didn't have a choice about turning up somewhere and staying with the event or group even though I felt really ill. This is led to some quite traumatic endings. And it is not in my head, but as I have only recently found out, the reason I have often felt like that was because I was carrying chronic conditions around with me like a ball and chain I didn't realise I had!

Expectations

Living up to other peoples' expectations is difficult, but I think we sometimes we make it more difficult upon ourselves. Because we think we know what other people expect of us - be it social norms or our parents or loved ones - however in reality we're probably projecting something of ourselves onto those people about what WE believe about that situation.

In a strange twist of fate, as I was sitting eating my breakfast, another guest had quietly come to say bye as they had decided something similar, to leave early though for different reasons.

In some ways it made my decision slightly more difficult, but in another way a little easier too.

I guess I thought, oh goodness I hope the totally gorgeous and lovely organisers do not feel that there is something wrong with the event - nothing could be further from the truth. But I also realised that being in our own truth is so, so important.

Why kid ourselves (as well as others) that 'A' is good, yes, no problem, where 'B' is actually what we want?

If the last few years and indeed last few weeks have done nothing to help us understand the importance of following our intentions, our principles, our hearts - then I'm not sure what will.

No More Shoulds, Oughts and Needs

So, I hear you say, what about doing the washing up or cleaning the loo - I need to do that and I REALLY don't want to! (I also hear the litany of other things that are on your To Do list….I recognise that, because they've probably been on mine.)

The problem with the To Do list of shoulds, oughts and needs is that it can be a total tyrant, and I've had enough of tyrants for a life time.

(I posted about how to flip the To Do list in to a To Don’t list in the past, and will revisit this in the future, but for now please make sure that you are not using list of things you should, ought or need to do as a form of self-sabotage for not doing things that you want to do.)

Instead, please consider balancing your shoulds, oughts and needs with YOUR wants.

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  • Might you subcontract, delegate or just not do the shoulds, oughts and needs?
  • Just for now?
  • How would it feel to reclaim the wants in your life given that extra time?
  • Just to exercise your choice?
  • Like I did at my weekend event.
Good Goodbyes

Yes, there was FOMO at not being at the Saturday night get together with amazing things happening and being shared over social feeds during the week, but I know there was a high price to pay for me if I had stayed.

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Instead, I was able to spend quality time with most of my fellow guests, enjoy a stroll and a cuppa at a gorgeous riverside venue in the spring sunshine with a large group, watch a wedding of a happy young couple and say my goodbyes with no expectation, drama or sadness.

Instead, I felt affirmed and accepted.

  • No Shoulds.
  • No Oughts.
  • No Needs.

Instead, just what I WANTED.

What I wanted to do for ME.

This is possible.

This is realistic.

Please give yourself permission to gain equilibrium, and please avoid self-sabotage: even when you have a load of shoulds, let the balance tip towards you occasionally, and allow yourself some wants.

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