I was recently sitting around a fire pit, with a glass of wine in hand, with an excellent group of female friends. It was a perfect summer evening, all the way around. Our conversation moved around through work, summer plans, kids, food, recent business and pleasure travel, and on through whatever lovely side road topics that came about.
At some point, one of our group announced that she had a moral dilemma and would love for us to weigh in. First off, aren?t friends a blessing?!? I loved that she brought this to our gathering, as a safe place to air what was troubling her. xo
Now, I can?t write about her dilemma, because that would be totally uncool. But what I can tell you is that the core of her quandary involved the word ?should.? So-and-So SHOULD have done X. Or, So-and-So SHOULDn?t have done Y. How many times have we all, either in our heads or with our outside voice, expressed that someone SHOULD or SHOULDn?t have done/said something?
🙁 My friend should?ve remember my birthday.
🙁 My son should pick up his smelly socks and not leave them, balled up and festering, for the millionth time, in the middle of the living room floor. (Gosh, that sounded really specific, didn?t it?!)
🙁 My boss shouldn?t expect that of me.
🙁 My spouse shouldn?t be so loud in social gatherings.
🙁 My co-worker should be more organized.
🙁 The event organizer should have planned for that possibility.
Blah, blah, blah-d-blah.
If you pay attention, you?ll notice this happening many, many times every day. And, anytime we?re thinking that someone should or shouldn?t have done or said something, we?re causing ourselves suffering (mental discomfort, negative emotions, lost sleep, stress, etc). Which is a drag. For us, I mean. In today’s love note, I’m offering up some thoughts that may help you out of that suffering. And here?s a hint: it?s not about getting the other person to see it your way. Instead….
Invite Your Wise Witness to Chime In
When I catch myself ?SHOULD?-ing, I pause and invite my Wise Witness to give her two cents, where she usually questions the WHY of my SHOULD.
“Wait, Laurie Warren. Who the heck is your ?Wise Witness!?!?
Wise Witness is my name for the part of ourselves that we can tap into, that doesn?t make everything ?bad? that happens in OUR world, or everything that upsets US, the fault of others. She basically calls me out on my sh**, in a loving way. She helps me remember that my perspective is mine, and mine alone. That other people often have reasons for doing what they do, that feel like really good reasons TO THEM. Or, what felt like a big, hairy deal to me didn?t even register on their radar screen because they have a different perspective, or they didn?t notice, or they?re thinking about the near-fatal fall their aging father just had and the thing that I?ve got my undies in a bunch about is like a gnat in a room with their hungry lion. Ie: comparatively not important to them. Or, they?re hoping that if they ignore it, it will just go away. Or, based on their value system, what they just did/said is 100% ?right.? So many options.
Anyhoo, Wise Witness just sits there all full of love, reclining with her Converse sneakers up on my couch, ankles crossed, chewing on her piece of sweet field grass, observing, and asking really good questions (that can sometimes feel annoying to receive).
Here?s what it sounds like:
Me: That guy should have let me out in traffic. He was coming up to a red light anyways, so he should?ve let me out for my left-hand turn. (Note: this is a recurring SHOULD for me. It?s interesting to watch how my mind plays this tape EVERY time this circumstance comes up! Even after many times of doing the inner discussion that follows. Eventually, I?ll get it.)
Wise Witness: WHY should he let you out in traffic?
Me: Because. I want him to, and their line isn?t moving anyways. It?s no skin off his back, and would help promote the flow of traffic.
Wise Witness: OOOhhhhh. I see. So he?s inconsiderate simply because he?s not doing what YOU want him to do?
Me: Well. Sure, it?s what I want him to do, but it?s the right thing to do! It?s considerate.
Wise Witness: ?Right thing? according to whom?
Me: To me, dammit! To anyone! Jeezus you?re a pain in the a**.
Wise Witness: I know, I know. Listen, all I?m saying is that your view of the ?right thing? is exactly that?YOUR VIEW. You, my sweet friend, are one of 7 billion views of morality on this planet. And, if it were indeed EVERYone?s view, then he would?ve let you in, right?
Me: Hmph. Okay, I guess that?s a good point.
Wise Witness: And, if you don?t mind my saying, the fact that you?re getting defensive and emotional means that this really isn?t about him. It rarely is, you know. About the other person, I mean. When SHOULDs come up, it?s a really good time to look at what, in YOU, has been triggered. It?s your stuff, not theirs.
Me: (sighing) Okay, okay. I get it.
Wise Witness: Wanna look at why this is triggering you?
Me: Nope. Not today. Thanks for your input and I?m turning up the music now.
Wise Witness (smiles, leans back, and closes her eyes): Got it. I?m gonna chill out to this music. Let me know if someone ?misbehaves? again, and you wanna chat about it.
Know this: whenever you hear SHOULD or SHOULDn?t in your mind, you?re resisting what IS. You?re also likely trying to insert your unique perspective, and your views on manners/morality/right & wrong, on someone else. And making yourself unhappy.
I encourage you to keep an eye out for SHOULDs, and how they wreak havoc in your mind, damage your relationships, and keep you up at night. Be nice to yourself, please. This is not intended to be a new area where you berate yourself. ?OMG, I’m such a loser. I shouldn?t be SHOULD-ing.? Haha! We ALL do it. I loved how open my friend was, during our group discussion, while we gave her input, including the idea of ?why SHOULD they?? I invite you to bring that same type of loving open-ness to conversations inside your own head!
Have a fantabulous week, lovin? up your BodyMindSpirit.
With love & acres of field grass,