image by Emily Marie
"The Perils of the Should Word". Most people have those days when motivation eludes them, when slouching on the sofa, mug in hand, watching multiple episodes of their favourite Scandi crime drama is the most attractive option. Some people even manage to achieve this relaxed state with a sense of acceptance, of deservedness even and soaked in total relaxation. For some that’s just a dream. For me, it’s so heavily shrouded in guilt that, whilst I often still try to do it, the element of relaxation is sadly missing. And it’s all because of that word ‘should’.
I’m sat at my tatty wooden table, tapping out these words just now because I feel as though I ‘should’ be making better use of my time. And because I just read one of those annoying quotes that stated “don’t work for 8 hours at a company then go home and not work on your own goals. You’re not tired, you’re uninspired”. Arggghh! Even if that word wasn’t amongst them, it’s still yelling in the background telling me that I should have some get up and go. I wish it were that easy!
As a depressed introvert (I know that makes me sound just the type of person everyone loves to be around!), emotional or social energy is rarely in abundance. The working day drains so much of me, the necessity to interact with others for long periods, to engage in nonsense chit chat and come up with immediate responses in meetings, is such pressure. When I’m home, I just need space to breathe, to reflect, to switch off the noise. That’s when ‘should’ returns.
Somewhere else, I read about the merits of self-care, how it is vital to a person’s well-being to take time out to rest, and so that makes doing not much all okay for about five minutes. I try to reason with my ‘should’ demon by telling him that I’m embracing the Danish concept of Hygge and taking pleasure in my surroundings, being cosy, just being. That doesn’t work either. I’m still hearing his voice, yapping on about doing something more useful, working towards an achievement of some kind. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s the shove I need to get things done, but more often than not, it’s simply a way of making me feel bad about all that I’m not doing.
During conversations with friends, when I hear the ‘should’ word, I’m quick to ask them where it’s coming from; who’s expectation is it exactly? Is there someone telling them to do be perpetually busy? I am good at making others realise the value of doing whatever makes them feel the happiest, that they have to justify their actions to no-one. Why then, can’t I follow my own advice? So, for the rest of today, I’ve gagged the demon and am pulling on my fluffy socks, picking up my magazine and I’m going to do what I should - relax!
Caroline Wylie, a registered nurse now living in Peebles, Scottish Borders. She is currently pondering the shape of her next work role so is quietly trying out a few new things. Caroline has lived experience of depression and anxiety of over 20 years and is keen to share with others those times when life is tough. Connect with Caroline on Instagram.