2020 May

The S-Word

By Twila Albrecht

My sophomore year of college, I was crippled with social anxiety and a calendar full of activities and due dates. Eventually, I lugged my way over to the campus counselor’s office. In one of our conversations, the counselor invited me to remove the word ‘should’ from my vocabulary. To this day, I feel empowered by the gift of that invitation. Here’s why removing the S-word has been an important practice for me:

  1. I’m challenged to think about the way I communicate with myself and others. I find that when I remove the S-word, I’m forced to reframe what it is that I want or need, or what it is that is inhibiting me from moving forward. By naming any underlying assumptions in a ‘should statement’, I can remain open to more than one way of thinking or responding in any given situation. When I’m conscious about my language, it changes the way I act in the world.
  2. I’m empowered to stay in the present moment. I’m no English teacher, but it strikes me that ‘should’ is used in both past tense and present future. When I remove the demands of what I should be doing, or how I should have responded, I am encouraged to stay in the present moment, noticing where my attention is and choosing to act from there.
  3. I’m allowed to choose me. Rather than using guilt, shame, or regret as a (harmful) motivator, I can choose how to spend my time and energy, and therefore be more present when I do need to give time to others.

Of course this is something I’ll always be practicing. When the ‘shoulds’ come screeching, I turn to the Presencing Institute’s guided journaling practice. Presencing Institute defines ‘presencing’ as “the capacity to connect to the deepest sources of self – to go to the inner place of stillness where knowing comes to surface.” In this space where presence and sensing meet, I use journaling to aid in creating action steps that bring awareness to my current reality. I do this exercise when I want to show up and put in the effort; not because I think I should do it. Click here for the guided journaling practice from the Presencing Institute. Take care of yourself, friend!

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