So as it turns out, it’s really not that difficult to write your first good blog post – what comes next is way harder. I fully expected that I would be writing at LEAST 2 posts a week delving into the next goal I was tackling (or at least starting) and that seeing as the topics were more or less laid out in the GOALS LIST, it wouldn’t be too hard to find things to write about. Ohhh how optimistic!
In truth, I wasn’t really sure where to go after making such a big declaration out of my upcoming solo trip. Most of the remaining goals on the list are going to a) take the entire year to complete or b) require me to REALLY get my ass in gear. In other words…not going to happen in the 9 days since my last post. But I felt like I SHOULD be actively working towards those goals EVERY day/week, so therefore HOW didn’t I have something to write about?
Thankfully, I had some wise words originally attributed to Dr. Albert Ellis and recently stated by my yoga teacher in my head: “Stop should-ing on yourself!”
Honestly, how many times a day do most of us use the word “SHOULD” when thinking about the actions, decisions, emotions, etc. of ourselves and others?
“I really SHOULD go to the gym…”
“You really SHOULD have kids soon, you’re not getting any younger!”
“I SHOULD like this movie/book/TV show, everyone else does…”
“I SHOULD be able to get better/lose weight/find a better job without any help”
“Why SHOULD he/she be depressed, they have a ton of money?”
“I SHOULD be able to do this without being scared”
This is a very short list of examples which only gets longer when we add in the “MUSTS” and “OUGHTS” – the Trifecta!
Psychologists and behavioral researches call these “should statements” and have known for years that making these statements to and about yourself is related to increased incidence of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Now, having a little pressure to get things done isn’t bad inherently – I would be lying if I said I never waited until the last minute to finish a school assignment that I knew about for an entire semester beforehand. The problem with “should statements” is it easily becomes a SHAMING statement – we feel like there’s something wrong with us because we can’t live up to what we SHOULD be doing.
When it comes to understanding why shame is such a de-motivator, there’s nobody better than Brené Brown. Seriously, this woman has spent a decade and a half interviewing thousands of people from all genders, races, socioeconomic status, geographic area, career, etc. and finding the commonalities between them (as you may have guessed, we are way more similar than different). She explores shame exclusively in her book “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)” (2007) and it’s chock-full of real life and research-supported examples of how shame impacts our experiences, choices, and memories. There’s too much to post here, but here’s one particularly great statement:
“We cannot grow when we are in shame, and we can’t use shame to change ourselves or others.”
If this topic resonates with you, I highly recommend checking out this and other books by Brené – I’ve been making my way through her collection over the past couple of months and they are all filled with such great information and practical strategies. Head over to the new RESOURCES page for one of her hugely popular TED Talks and let me know if you check it out in the comments section!
So… how does all this relate to me having writers block?
Well, as I had mentioned earlier, I felt like I was letting my little group of readers down because I SHOULD be writing more frequently/have awesome things to say all the time. The truth is, not every post is going to be a gem, not every week is going to be an inspiring one, and it’s unrealistic to think I need to start crossing things off the list when I still have OVER A YEAR to go until the finish line.
This is really where the whole point of the project lies – working through my own insecurities, self-imposed standards, and need to be an “A+” kind of person. As I was kindly reminded of the other day while stressing out to Brian that I hadn’t written anything this week – this whole blog was MY idea, made by ME, and is a product of what I want it to be. It isn’t a school assignment or work deadline that I need to meet for anyone else, and I’m not getting graded on it (but if anyone WANTS to dole out some grades, I’m in!).
I’m sharing my progress for the sake of vulnerability, accountability, and inspiration-ability. Sometimes that progress will be significant and other times it will be non-existent. This week happened to be more challenging than I expected, but that doesn’t mean it was a “bad” week. Not posting multiple times a week won’t cause me to have a reader-less blog (right, guys??) and it doesn’t mean I’ve “failed” because I haven’t crossed a goal off the list yet.
Actually, I did make some strides towards my goal of meditating every day for a year…and then ended my 5 day streak on Friday. In the past (and let’s be honest, very recent past), this would have completely stopped what I was setting out to do in the first place. Whether we consciously choose to or not, the old “falling off the wagon” adage plagues most of us throughout our lives and prevents us from getting back “on”…usually it means the wagon rolls right off the road and over a cliff.
I’m determined to break this pattern and I would love to hear from any of you who are working through the same struggle. How do you cope with setbacks? Are you a victim of self-imposed shaming? Do you “should” on yourself so much that you need toilet paper? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or send me a private message on the Contact Me page.
Until next time!