How to Stop Shoulding on Yourself

Feelings! How they affect our emotional, physical, and spiritual health is up to us. We have likely encountered people saying, “you hurt my feelings,” and had ours hurt in many ways. Beneath this dynamic lies a valley full of landmines.

A maze of shoulds, oughts, and coulds that explode within, fragmenting identity. That remaining a permanent condition is a matter of choice.

The first and most difficult element to accept about feelings is they’re a choice made by the person experiencing them.

Yes even if someone is rude, crude and obnoxious towards us. I own the option to decide how much of myself I give to my emotional pain. A fresh wound may hurt like hell. An ignored one hurts more. Imagine a cut on your finger that requires sutures. Now imagine that same cut left untreated. It could become infected and gangrene could set in.

Many people respond to having their feelings hurt at either one extreme of ignoring the pain, or the other of wallowing in it, both resulting in misery. The wound festers in the wake of polarized either/or thinking. Distress reverberates with similar intensity when the original injury is stirred by a new incident. Sometimes the most recent pain invoking moment is as sensitive as sunburned skin is to a light summer breeze.

It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters

If I can accept my feelings are a choice. I can then take action, and put together a plan that allows original wounds to form a scab. This is our body’s way of mending external pain. It is no different on the inside of us. This can take considerably more time than a cut finger with stitches takes to become a full fledged scar. Yet we can get better if we attend to it, instead of ignoring the issue and hoping it goes away.

But just as the strategy for a deep cut on a finger requires sowing it up with nylon and expecting it will hurt for a while, the beginning of healing an emotional wound is to experience the pain, not run from it. The ignored pain of trauma on any level only leads to increased turmoil. Feel the residual pain from historical issues by allowing the energy of it to gradually unfold the way a river winds through a valley. Heal as you release the emotional energy stuck inside the container of your body.

Pain is certain, suffering is optional.

So once the response to emotional pain emerges, and we plan a path toward finding and implementing a strategy, the third and last thing is to discover the pace of healing. The familiar shoulds, oughts, etc. that echo in my head sound similar to the voice of reason. Perhaps because I heard them so many times.

More likely they are the voice of those who taught me to stuff my emotional energy and put on a counterfeit face. That feels highly unreasonable. Yet I made various choices to become aware of that, or to stay miserable and ignorant.

Exploring the uncharted territory of emotional health can take time. In a world of instant gratification, where faster is better, more shoulding on one’s self because “I’m not doing it fast enough” means yet another choice.

Why not see it to the end? There will always be choices. We can make them or allow others to make them for us. The first issue you tackle can take a long time to experience progress.

If you move forward then success leads to more success. What was once difficult, with practice and perseverance can become second nature.

No more tyranny of repressed feelings, disconnected and fragmented from the authentic you. All of us on this planet are works in progress. We choose if we step forward, remain stuck in place, or shift backward.

Perseverance is the foundation of all actions
Lao Tzu

Thanks to Lyndsay Knowles and Jessica Jungton

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