If you’ve stuck around here any amount of time, you know of my history with fear, anxiety, and depression. But I don’t believe I’ve yet mentioned the one little word that has the potential to stir up those emotions quicker than most. Allow me to introduce you to the culprit:
Should. (And a close relative shouldn’t)
I used to believe that I shouldn’t struggle with those emotions, and because of this, I “shoulded” all over myself.
“I shouldn’t have anxiety.”
“I shouldn’t be this way.”
“I’m a Christian, so I should be happy and not depressed.”
These were the words that played on repeat in my head. Every. Day.
One unrealistic should after another heaped itself onto my shoulders until the weight felt so heavy I could barely stand.
I believed the lie that Christianity “should” equate to perfection and, in turn, forgot the whole human aspect of my humanity. I ran with the perspective that I needed to try harder and be a better Christian, but the harder I tried and the more I “shoulded”—yes, we’re saying this is a word today–the anxiety and depression amplified. I felt I “should” be far above all these inconvenient human emotions.
Breaking free from anxiety by walking away from shoulds
Once I discovered how destructive these shoulds were to my emotional health, I consciously worked to speak the truth rather than shoulds to myself. Sure I felt anxious and depressed; I had—and still have—a weakness in this area, but “shoulding” all over myself only made/makes things worse. No wonder I felt so anxious with shoulds—I was heaping condemnation on myself. God gave us our emotions, and He certainly isn’t blaming us for them. Freedom is found by learning to work with emotions and to stop condemning ourselves for having them.
I am human and flawed. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s not just okay; it’s excellent because God uses imperfect, anxious, flawed things and makes them beautiful!
Walking away from shoulds
The should’s I still place on myself
Ever since I began this writing adventure, I’ve felt the pull of what I “should” be writing. (In case you weren’t aware of this, there is a great big blogging world that tells you how “it should” be done.) There are entire sites committed to telling bloggers like me what I should be writing and how to capture people’s attention and stay relevant long enough to hold it. I’ll be honest; I can start to fret over whether or not “I’m doing it right.”
I get caught up in what I think I should be doing instead of what I would like to say, and before I know it, all those “shoulds” work to sidetrack me from my specific goal.
Recently, God reminded me of the “shoulds” I used to heap on myself in my darkest days of anxiety and how I’m still “shoulding” today.
I have found myself back in the old habit of shoulds.
“I should be writing a certain way and on certain topics.”
“I should be doing it like (insert name of another blogger/writer.).”
“I shouldn’t be writing at all; what do I know, I’m not an expert.”
I should; I should, I should…*Cue anxiousness.
How easily old habits resurface when our focus shifts to the world and away from the truth.
Keeping it Simple and walking away from shoulds
I started my blog to share a burden in two ways:
- To offload the one I carry.
- And to pick yours up.
Simple as that.
Why am I sharing all of this with you? Because I don’t ever want to forget the beauty God created out of the hard places in me. I don’t want to miss my specific purpose. I don’t want to lose the meaning in pain or be anyone other than who He made me be.
And also; because I’m still on this journey with you. The “should’s” still bring me down and have the ability to make me anxious—I’m not here to give you a polished version of me. But instead, a recovering chronic worrier that clings daily to His grace. I’m not perfectly mended, but working instead to be transparent in the process of my life and writing journey. And through this, I pray you will receive a gift of hope and comfort for your journey.
We are all in this crazy, beautiful life together. And maybe I can help you with the comfort Jesus gave me.
Sharing Shoulds to break free from anxiety
So, rather than focusing solely on what is happening in the world today—and I know a lot is going on—or the next significant blogging trend on Pinterest, I will continue to keep it simple and share another piece of my healing journey. My story is simple, but aren’t most beautiful things simple? Our savior came simply, with a humble birth and a modest life. And that simple life is the most beautiful story ever told.
Stick around these next few weeks while I talk about the shoulds that held me down and how I choose daily to break free from them.
You’re going to should on yourself—but it’s entirely within your power to decide which shoulds stay and which ones go. You can live in freedom from anxiety’s control and the unnecessary, unrealistic shoulds that hold you down. But if that all feels like a bit too much today, maybe start with this little reminder from a fellow “shoulder”: you have permission to be human.
I am praying today that by sharing the burden on my heart, it will lift the one from yours.
As always, friend, thank you for stopping by,