Making rigid demands of ourselves and others creates unnecessary stress and friction in our lives. It means we’re constantly beating ourselves up and feeling ‘less than’.
A positive saying we would all do well to remember is: ‘Try not to be perfect’.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a practical and very empowering type of therapy which helps people challenge the unhelpful and intrusive thoughts which can lead to self-sabotaging behaviours like overeating, smoking and drinking too much.
These ‘crooked’ thoughts include inflexible demands and beliefs such as should, ought, have to and must.
For example, a voice might pop into your head and tell you: ‘I shouldn’t ever make a mistake.’
‘They should know how I feel and what I need.’
‘I must get out more.’
‘I ought to have a better paid job by now.’
In page 16 of Broccoli & Brains issue 2 (which you can order here), we challenge you to complete a list of shoulds such as ‘clean the car more often’, ‘exercise more’.
If you’ve done this, look at each statement and take out the should at the beginning, replacing it with the prefix: If I really wanted to, I could…
This will helps you to prioritise to your best advantage and distinguish between the stuff you just beat yourself up about doing (but have no burning desire to really complete) and stuff that matters to you.
It’s a simple exercise but can really help create balanced thinking. Paying attention to how you’re talking to yourself is key to being to challenge the internal noise that makes even the toughest operator pretty miserable.
Practice these skills and in time they’ll come automatically. Good luck!