When things aren’t working out as we’ve planned or we’re laying in the bed at night, unable to sleep due to some past issue or problem, many people struggle with a lot of guilt. Guilt relating to what they “should’ve” done. As a dear friend once confided to me when considering ending her engagement, “It will just kill him, and I’d just die if I had to do that.” As I pointed out to her, his heart would continue to beat, and quite frankly, her fiancé deserved better than to marry someone who felt like she did.
Invariably, the word should will enter these conversations (in my friend’s case, “I should just go ahead with it”). But here’s the deal: If your main reason for doing anything is because you think you should rather than because it’s what you truly want, ask yourself, Is what I am doing bringing me joy? Or Am I doing it out of obligation? Does this align with my values?
There will always be a reward for helping others and being generous with your resources, but don’t deny the cost or let what other people expect or think dictate your future. Try your best to tune into your intuition and be true to whatever is tugging at your heart. Anything else will have you second guessing and “shoulding” on yourself.
As for past “I shoulda”’s; start considering the amount of time and energy it takes to focus on past decisions and events that happened in the PAST that you certainly cannot change. I am sure you did what you did or made the decision you made using the information you had at that time. Also; if your mind has grown any since that time, you’re not even the same PERSON now! So you’re considering what you “shoulda” done based on the person you are NOW…NO Fair! Don’t hold your current self responsible for the messed up decisions your past self made. Your current self can certainly make amends and/or make apologies if necessary but no “shoulding” is allowed!
What “should” you do instead? - Focus on the future!
Our instinctual “negativity bias” drives people to focus more on what they could have had instead of what they might gain, more on what could go wrong than on what might go right, more on what is missing in our past than on what we want to create for our future. So be very intentional not to get caught living through the rearview mirror, dwelling on what coulda, woulda, shoulda happened in the past.
Ask yourself: What new life experiences would I love to have? Who do I need to be to attract that? What do I need to do to make it happen?
The past is done. Learn the lessons it holds, make amends if necessary, then focus your time and energy on creating your future.
It’s yours to create!