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Stop "Should-ing" Yourself

Stop “should-ing” yourself.

I knew I had a problem when last week I “should-ed” myself at least a dozen times.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda…I know I’m not the only one. This modern phenomena must stop as it totally debilitates us from reaching higher levels of awareness, it holds us back, it prevents us from helping others.

Especially as yogis/yoginis we “should” know better. AH! Damn. I “should-ed” again…

As a yoga practitioners and teachers, we might be a little more sensitive to the thoughts that role around in our heads…or the actions that accompany them. They are no different then anyone else’s, (crazy thoughts and actions). We are potentially just more aware of them when they are “bad” things because we while on a spiritual path to Samadhi and we “should” know better. Oops! Again.

I “should” not think this.

I “should” not eat that.

I “should” not go there.

I “should” not smoke those.

I “should” not buy them.

Positive sunshine rays “should” shoot out of my eyeballs.

Blah, blah, blah…

Time to get over it people because no one like someone who “shoulds” all over themselves.

Where is the line between following an appropriate moral compass and standing on moral high ground that is impossible to stay firmly planted on?

Fellow yogis, we are human and life happens to us, within us, around us, just like every body else. Because often when looking around at the people who surround us, we may see that others are looking up to us as “spiritual gurus” (I suppress a chuckle here). It is the highest form of a compliment to have people around you who want to be with you, learn from you, watch you… I think we may all too often berate ourselves when we feel we “should” behave, act, perform, or feel a certain way just because we are under a lens.

I will never forget one of my first real life yoga teachers. I totally looked up to her in my early twenties and could not believe how “cool” she was. Peaceful, beautiful, and so centered! I unknowingly put her on a pedestal. One day I got news of a total scandal she had been involved in. A TOTAL SCANDAL! It was awful and I was shocked. How could she have!? I then felt incredible sympathy for her and saw for the first time that she was human. Guess what, we all are. And we all grow the same way… through learning from our mistakes and thus discovering what doesn’t suit us.

When yogis make a consistent effort (practice abhyasa) in working with the yamas and the niyamas… the path will naturally get narrower and we will naturally and easily be guided to where we are supposed to be in our practice. When we do something, think something, buy something, eat something that feels wrong to us… we need to recognize it, make a mental note that “hey, this isn’t working” decide how you want to change the behavior, and move on. Let go. Letting go is practicing vairagya, which is the complimenting principal to consistent practice.

We “should” not “should” ourselves….this is a mental disturbance that holds us back. We need to instead practice gentle smriti, according to the sutras:

Smriti is cultivating a constant mindfulness of treading the path, and of remembering the steps along the way. This memory is not a negative mental obsession, but rather, a gentle, though persistent awareness of the goal of life, of faith in your journey, and of your decision to commit your energy to the process.

When we falter, we just keep trying. Consistent practice guarantees results! When we change, adapt, and grow towards our natural transformation we will serve as a guiding light to those we teach. And this is enough.

No one likes someone who is constantly “should-ing” themselves.


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