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Shifting the Should

Yesterday as I pushed myself to finish a project despite feeling completely wiped out, our kitty Calla stayed in a spot a distance away, sighing from time to time. There was none of the usual hanging out on my desk, pushing her face into my face.

When my project was done, I considered all the things I should tackle next. It was a long list, and it stressed me out. But I felt so fatigued, I chose to lie down and rest and leave my list for another day. I struggled against the “shoulds,” but as soon as I got on the bed, Calla jumped up next to me, rolled around, and purred loudly. She pushed her head into my hand and reached for a nearby toy to grab and kick. The feedback was undeniable. Trade in the “should” for what feels good now.

Last year when I went to my favorite crystal store to buy a birthday gift for a friend, I ended up getting something for myself, too—a dreamcatcher keychain I didn’t need but just loved. When I went to pay, the man behind the counter asked, “Are these gifts?” I replied in full eye-rolling self-shame mode, “The crystal is for my friend, but of course I had to get something for myself, too.” The man replied, “Doesn’t mean the keychain isn’t a gift as well!” He had a point—why did it feel only right to give to a friend and not myself?

At the end of my first horse-and-soul workshop in Costa Rica, we spent time communicating with our horses while we painted on them. It was so cool—Mr. Big patiently stood still while I painted symbols on the side of his body, to represent everything he had taught me about love and self-worth. At one point, Mr. Big told me the painting was complete. I stood back to take a look and agreed. Then I thought, no, I should fix this one spot. Of course when I tried to fix it, the imperfection became more noticeable. Why didn’t I listen to Mr. Big? The point of the exercise wasn’t perfection, it was about acknowledging our journeys.

A lot of the "shoulds" in our lives come from a place of not enough. I’m not enough if I don’t work hard. I’m not enough to deserve giving to myself. What I did was not enough—I need to make it perfect. So we should work hard no matter what, should give gifts only to others, and should make our best better. But shifting to giving ourselves a break and recognizing what feels good in our body and soul is where the alignment is. It’s when we come back to our truth, and it allows us to thrive.

It’s so easy for our animals to see that…and even one special crystal-shop guy could. They give me hope that we can all learn to take a breath the next time we “should.” ✨

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