Have-tos, Shoulds, Used-tos and Wants

There are a lot of things I have to do (bear with me – you can skim my list, but pick up a few items as you go – you may find that you have a lot of the same things you have to do too).
Here’s what I have to do:

I have to track my food.

I have to workout.

I have to make dinner.

I have to drive an hour each way in traffic.

I have to work.

I have to wash the dishes.

I have to do the laundry.

I have to clean the house.

I have to eat better.

I have to eat more vegetables.

I have to eat more fruit.

I have to go to practice (I play roller derby).

I have to brush my daughter’s teeth.

I have to read her a story and put her to bed.

I have to lose weight.
Here’s what I should do:

I should stop eating processed foods.

I should have a better attitude.

I should work out more.

I should update my linked in profile.

I should update my online portfolio.

I should apply for a new job.

I should be posting to this blog at least every week, not every other year.

I should try harder at losing weight. 

Here’s what I used to do:

I used to run.

I used to walk the dogs every day.

I used to happily go to the gym.
I used to be thinner.

I used to track all my food.

I used to feel good about myself.

I used to like the way I looked.
This is what I want:

I want to have a clean house.

I want to lose weight.

I want to be a good mom.

I want to enjoy the food I eat.

I want to have fun.

I want to be happy.

I want to write.

I want to play derby.
Here’s what I thought of today:

Is it me, or does it seem like I’m a little hard on myself? How can I get to the “I wants” in my life, when I’m always focusing on the “I have-tos”, the “I shoulds” and the “I used tos”? How can I possibly have any mental energy for any of the things I want to do if I walk around with the impending doom of all the things I HAVE to do? Does it really have to be that bad? 

I realized today, that by focusing on the things I have to do, and should do I am really simply overwhelming myself – every. single. day. I sleep eight hours, yet I’m exhausted. I cook food, yet I still feel hungry. I show up to practice, yet I feel like I’m not improving in my skills. 
The truth is: 

I’m mentally tired.

I’m hungry because I want food to make me feel better.

I am improving, but I can’t see it because all I see is the roll of fat at the waistband of my pants that wasn’t there three years ago.

Life is not about the have-tos, shoulds or used-tos. Life is about the wants and the choices. It’s about feeling in control and good about the things you choose to do. If I keep putting  all this pressure on myself to get all of these things done, all I will ever want to do is hide under the covers. Currently, in this overwhelmed state, I take no pride in the things I do, and I do everything only with the intent to get it over with. Even the important things like making sure my kid’s teeth are brushed properly so she won’t have 1,000 cavities before she is ten are hastily completed . 

All of my mental resources are pretty much wasted by negative thoughts about what I used to be and how much crap I should be doing. I focus on the person I was before I gained weight, and never give myself credit for the things I have been able to accomplish during a very difficult time in my life. I dwell on everything I used to do and how much I enjoyed it – as if this person is now dead and will never return. Mix that morose thought pattern with a list of chores that any adult faces from day to day AND…I snap…and I can’t do anything. Everything sits, the constant clutter of incomplete projects, thoughts and goals I a sad and pathetic limbo where months will pass before I summon up the strength and mental will to clean a room, or organize a junk drawer. At the end of the day, I’m tired of living like this – I don’t like how it feels and it’s not who I want to be.

I don’t enjoy rushing through all of the things I have to do so I can enjoy my life a tiny bit, (Saturday and Sunday) unless I have some sort of obligation I don’t want to go to but “Should”. I don’t stop to smell anything, let alone a rose. I spend so much time thinking negatively that I don’t have any energy left to spend putting effort  into doing things well.

The important thing I realized today is that I have to change the way I look at every single one of these things, and it’s going to be a challenge. A HUGE CHALLENGE. I’m allowed to think about the things I want – it is good to have goals. But I think the thing that isn’t good is all the pressure I am putting on myself by thinking of what I have to do – ALL. THE. TIME.

Check this out, this is how I have been thinking:

I have to do the dishes. I should do them right after I’m done eating.
I have to lose weight, I need to pay more attention to if I’m hungry or not. 

I have to try harder so I can skate faster at practice and keep up with everyone.

This is the new thinking:

I want to have a clean house, so I’m choosing to do the dishes after I’m done eating. (See how that’s a choice? It’s no longer a chore – but simply a task in part of my overall goal)

I want to feel good about myself again, so I’m choosing to think hard about whether I really am hungry or if I’m responding to a feeling or emotion. (I’m encouraging myself to question what my brain is telling me – the more I do this, the more I will believe in myself instead of that mean old witch in my head that wants to see me fail)
I am literally changing a word in a sentence, and I feel so much weight lifted from my shoulders. I encourage you to make these lists. In the process, It showed me the things I want most:
To be a good mom,

To feel good about myself,

To write,

To feel happy,

To have fun. 

I can’t do any of these things if I’m torturing myself with mundane adult tasks. I am not carrying a cross here people – I just need to open the dishwasher and do the damn dishes. But I need to choose to do them. I need to want it – I can no longer HAVE to do anything in life.

Who’s ready to start thinking differently?


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