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The slippery slope between shoulding and avoiding

Radical Honesty trainer candidate and Honesty Europe team member Bernie Reingruber writes our newsletter this week.

Dear friend,

Lately, I have noticed myself being increasingly should-phobic in my life. I am at war with my inner shouldist, who is telling me things like “I should wash the dishes!”, “I should reply to her!”, “I should really post this event online!”, “I should read more and spend less time in front of my computer!”. And, I — as a self-determined, Radical Honesty-practicing, wannabe-integrated workshop facilitator — respond powerfully with: “Nahh…”

I tend to bottom-dog my way out of every should that I have for myself.

This has left me with a number of messes: Dirty dishes in the sink, burning eyes from too much screen time, or stalling projects that, at one point, I had really wanted to pursue. All the while, I’m waiting for my preferences to suddenly appear on my mind’s horizon and give me the go-ahead to get stuff done.

Take this letter, for example.

Tuulia had asked me to write something, ANYthing, as a newsletter for Honesty Europe. I happily and readily agreed and committed to write something by the end of the month. I even scheduled time on my calendar to sit down and write.

And whenever one of these calendar entries popped up over the last weeks, I heard it as a should and internally responded “NO!” as I have learned and practiced and told others to practice in many Radical Honesty workshops. I have made a story out of my favorite Radical Honesty exercise – the Shoulds exercise – that Shoulds are bad and to be avoided at all costs!

So, days and weeks passed and I ignored my calendar alerts. As the deadline crept closer and closer, I noticed more and more movement and tension in my chest. I wanted to write this article and, at the same time, I had made it into something to be avoided. I had started telling myself that “I shouldn’t do what I think I should” – being lost in my mind… Again!

I started wondering about my relationship to shoulds and preferences. Even though I knew that I really wanted to write this article, my preference for sitting down and doing the work did not magically appear in all these weeks. No waiting helped, no stroke of insight appeared, no internal and no external rescuer came to free me from the tension that was lingering underneath.

How the hell can I navigate between shoulding and avoiding my shoulds?

It’s great to live in the moment and be present to what you truly want right now. Of course. I know intellectually.

And just doing that, I imagine, is a recipe for letting all the short-term satisfactions of life run you over, distracting you from what and who you want to be(come).

Of course, some people would like to live in a never-ending sugarcane & chocolate sprinkled paradise where they ongoingly have lustful sex and float through the streets being blissed out and equanimous to slight disturbances of your surrounding magic. Me too, on some days at least.

And this is not the reality I live in. And I believe it’s not the reality we live in. We can be happy about that or sad, yet that won’t change a thing.

So if there is something that you truly want, that you commit to, it’s also beneficial that you train yourself in your willingness to feel and experience uncomfortable sensations.

Because they will arise.

And they ongoingly arise for me. The uncomfortable sensation of nausea in my belly when I’m setting out to wash the dishes, the weakness in my arms when replying to a text where some decision of mine is being asked, or the pressure in my chest when I post something on social media that is dear to me.

Or the mild constriction in my belly before and while writing this article, thinking about how I will be perceived by others.

The only way to really get what I want is to go through these uncomfortable sensations, not avoid them. Or make what I’m about to do more pleasant for me by getting present to why I wanted to do it in the first place.

Of course, I could also decide to not commit to things in the first place, re-negotiate commitments (again and again), or simply break them and not do what I said I would do and notice all the sensations that come up when you’re doing that (I’ve done all of it before).

But! When at one point I really had a strong “Hell Yeah!” towards something I set out to do and I’m simply not feeling like it on most of the days, thereby postponing it, then I judge I’m likely avoiding something.

Then I’m getting curious about how I make myself avoid.

Or I simply start.

I sit down, confront my uncomfortable sensations, and make myself proud and light in the process.

Bernie, a fellow shouldistic moralist

PS. Radical Honesty Enterprises is offering a new full of content online course!
Check out the GET OVER SHIT AND BE HAPPY 6-week online course with six live calls, tons of videos of Brad’s and Taber’s teachings and interactive online forum. This course kicks off on 13 June.
Learn more here and sign up here!

Browse all upcoming workshops.

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