I did the "I Should" exercise yesterday. Today the exercise is to expand on those statements and instead of "I Should" use "If I Really Wanted To, I Could". Then you ask the tough question, "Why Haven't You?" Again, I'm typing out the question and answering it as I create this post.
If I really wanted to, I could be good with money and spend it only on things that are important and useful.
Why Haven't You?
I want to spend some money on things that bring me joy. Why should I deprive myself? It's too hard and nearly impossible to save money.
If I really wanted to, I could be happily married and have no conflicts with my spouse.
I'm afraid of getting hurt. I don't want to be abandoned. Compromise is hard.
If I really wanted to, I could be thin and perfect.
It's never enough. I'll never be perfect enough. I try and I try, but I never can lose the weight.
If I really wanted to, I could have a perfectly clean house where there is no clutter.
I'd rather be doing something else. If I want it messy, it will be messy.
If I really wanted to, I could be a model employee who does everything perfectly, never takes time off and never makes mistakes.
I'm a pretty good employee and work hard. Mistakes happen but they scare me. I don't want to disappoint my boss or get into trouble.
If I really wanted to, I could always be happy, have no problems, never cry or feel angry and I must be perfect in order to be lovable.
I try but I never seem to get it right. I'm always screwing it up.
What strikes me immediately is how young I sound. Like a child that is helpless and scared. The "should" answers seem to parrot some outside authority, not my own beliefs or opinions. The programming started at an early age. According to the book, there should be some relief but I don't exactly feel relief. I think that some of the original "shoulds" aren't exactly horrible things to believe in (mindful of money use, healthy body, tidy home) but the beliefs behind them are twisted and not my own.
I've re-read my responses again and I can now hear the rational mature adult that is me. It's like there is a tug-of-war - me vs old programming. No wonder I feel confused all the time!
According to Louise, the problem should begin to shift. The process has been started of releasing the feelings of "being wrong" because they are not fitting someone else's standards. I hope this is true. I don't feel like skipping through a field of wildflowers feeling light and airy but certainly it is good to clarify some of the self-talk behind some of these beliefs.
I am incredibly hard on myself. I set impossible standards that set me up for failure time and again. My mother was this way. I think she set her own high standards as a distraction to whatever her demons were. And like mother, like daughter. I learned well.