I am doing an exercise from Louise Hay's book "You Can Heal Your Life". It's entitled "I Should". You are to write that on top of a piece of paper, write 5-6 ways to finish the sentence. Then ask "why?" after each one. Here are my answers:
I should be good with money and spend it only on things that are important and useful.
Because you may lose your job, house, family etc. and you will be prepared in case of emergency. And spending it on things that are not necessities is extravagant and wasteful.
I should be happily married and have no conflicts with my spouse.
Because to be married means you are valid, safe, happy and doing what is expected of you. You're supposed to be married and if you aren't there is something wrong with you.
I should be thin and perfect.
Because as a woman I am to look good for other people. It's healthy and if I'm fat I will die prematurely and painfully.
I should have a perfectly clean house where there is no clutter.
Because other people shouldn't see mess. Clean and orderly means you are clean and orderly. We must appear perfect to other people.
I should be a model employee who does everything perfectly, never takes time off and never makes mistakes.
Because I should not disappoint those in authority and who are paying me. I should be grateful I have a job at all.
I should always be happy, have no problems, never cry or feel angry and I must be perfect in order to be lovable.
Because I won't be a bother to anyone. I won't take up space, burden anyone with my problems, and I should be grateful I'm allowed to take up any space at all. In order to be loved and be acceptable, I must make everyone happy.
I wrote my responses to the "Why?" question as I wrote this entry and well, I'm a bit disturbed. These came from my upbringing, in one shape or another. I don't think some of these were told to me directly but this was what I learned growing up. This was the best I could do with what I had. And now, for 45 years, this has been the way I have lived my life. To say the least, I have made things rather difficult for myself.
It feels like an insurmountable task to take these beliefs and shift them to something that is true, positive and uplifting. A daunting task, to be sure. However I don't think I can avoid this anymore. I don't think I can have a life of contentment, joy and usefulness if these things are not addressed.
Can I do it. I have to. I don't think I have a choice anymore.