A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a one-day retreat with Joey of Horizon Inspired. It was aimed at Mumma-Bears and fitted nicely into a school day.
I approached the day knowing it would be relaxing and a nice way to spend the day...
...But it was so much more than that….
Who would think that just one day (and not even a full day at that), could result in a feeling of calm, tranquillity and clarity?
But something in particular struck a cord with me, it was like a light bulb moment and has had a profound impact on me ever since. A simple exercise which Joey carried out with us.
We each wrote out on a piece of card ‘I should’ and then listed 3 things which we play on loop to ourselves that we ‘should’ be doing. I should work harder, I should eat better, I should be less selfish, I should clean my house more…. And so on.
We then placed these to one side and I kind of felt like ‘wow, I tell myself a lot of crap and now I just feel kinda pulled into that loop’ But after a delicious combination of yoga and meditation that little slip of paper had completely vanished from my mind.
Towards the end of the day Joey reminded us of the slip of paper, once again I felt that dread building inside, I don’t even want to look at it!
But what Joey did changed everything for me… it really was a life lesson in mind chatter and the power we have over it.
Next to our unreasonable list of I should’s we wrote I could… simple right!
But honestly the shift it creates in your mind is amazing!
We then continued to write out all those should’s replaced with I could….. I could eat better, I could work more, I could clean my house more…. Lightbulb!
We are all aware that life is a series of choices we make, each choice takes us in a new direction and leads to a new set of choices, kinda like those 80’s books I read as a tween where you make a choice each page and then turn to the corresponding page based on your choice for the character. That really is life. It’s all about being present, being aware that you do have a choice and it’s one your making every day.
But changing those should’s into could’s felt super empowering. I have control over this, and I can do it whenever I choose to. The fact that I’m not doing those things probably means that I either just simply don’t want to (who ever said they WANTED to spend more time cleaning?!?) or I’m choosing right now not to prioritise it.
Once you remove the power of I should and replace it with the power of I could you suddenly feel less burdened by this stuff.
At the end of the day we are all doing our best, we are all trying to be good humans, but we are just humans, we are not gods or perfect beings and this anxiety which most of us face on a daily basis to be the best, the best mum, the best friend, the best wife, the best housekeeper, the best business owner… it has to stop.
So, I invite you to settle down, take a few deep breathes and write out all your annoying should’s.
Feels crap, right?
Now take a few moments breathing deeply, breathe in through your nose, hold for 3 seconds, then breathe out slowly through your mouth to the count of 5. Feel all the tension start to float out with the breath. When you’re ready go back to the list and rewrite them all as I could if I wanted to….
For me it’s been really liberating, and even weeks on from the retreat it continues to have a positive impact on my life.
If you feel like you’re not getting as much from the exercise as you would like, then maybe it’s time to take yourself off on a little one-day retreat and see what clarity sparks in your life.