Friday, February 8, 2013

Beat the To-Do List Demons & Stop "Shoulding" Yourself

True Story: My mom was visiting recently and we took a Friday spa day, to relax and treat ourselves to massages. Ah, yes, taking such good care of ourselves! We got there early so we could unwind before our massages. I took a long, hot shower, salt scrubbed my skin in the steam room and stretched in the sauna. I climbed onto the massage table feeling loose, took a few deep breaths to really settle in, when all of the sudden - I kid you not -
 I started thinking about my to-do list.

This will probably sound familiar: "Did I email my client back about next week? I'll have to check. And I need to get to the hardware store next week too, there's still so much to be settled in our new place. I never sent Dad a picture of the new sofa. I should really just call. I should have called last week. And Jeri called and I forgot to call her back..."

Luckily, I caught myself: Um, most wonderful self, aren't you here to relax? To retreat and take time away from all of that chatter? To take care of myself and mom? Yes I am, thank you for asking!

Even knowing that, I realized there was a part of me that felt guilty for taking a "work day" to go to the spa. "You should be doing something productive." Even though it was a special day because my mom was visiting, and one of the reasons I work for myself is so that I can make this kind of time, I couldn't shake the little voice that said, "there's so much you could be doing with the money you're spending on this massage," and "there's so much you should be getting done right now..."

Yep, right there on the massage table,
 I started "shoulding myself."

Does this ever happen to you? Where you go in knowing you deserve it and you need it and then the "I should's" and "I could's" begin to creep in the back door and you feel selfish, guilty, unproductive? Sometimes I even convince myself that I don't even deserve it after all. This is what I call a mind spin-out, when our outside fears override what we feel inside.

When it comes down to giving ourselves exceptional self-care and self-love, we often fall into feeling self-ish!

Here's what I think the critical difference is - and how I try to deal with those feelings when they come up:

  • If you catch the voices in the middle of their yappering, say "Thank you for sharing, I hear you. But I'm here now and I deserve this. I'll come back to all of that when I'm ready."
  • Sometimes a brain dump is necessary, for me especially before meditating or going to bed. Write down everything that's on your mind, all the to-do's and things you're worrying you'll forget. Once it's out on paper, you can let the paper hold on to it while you get some much needed quiet time.
Please share! When your mind starts to wander and you would much rather just ENJOY the massage, what works for you to quiet that "shoulding" voice?


  1. Alex~ this is so wonderful it's a pleasure watching you embrace your life journey..
    And Soul print work here on the planet..

    1. Thank you, Mark! I'm so full of questions and explorations and ideas these days...