Friday, January 17, 2014


"Have good trust in yourself, not in the One that you think you should be, 
but in the One that you are."

~ Taizan Maezumi, Zen Master

For most of my life, I have been enmeshed in what I call "should-ism." Who and what I am was not good enough. If that sounds whiney, I hasten to add that the person who most persistently told me I'm not good enough was myself. Of course, it was a learned behavior; but I learned it very well. And I know I'm not alone in this regard.

I got annoyed with myself the other day because I became annoyed at a situation, upon which annoyance my ego feasted for several hours. My inner critic went into hyper-drive and told me, "You shouldn't be that way. You should be this way."

And that's when I decided I'd had it. I decided to sit down and write in my journal about what had happened, and I learned a few things.

First, I realized how strongly "should-ism" permeates my life. I should be this. I should be that. I shouldn't be this; I shouldn't do that. 

Second, "should-ism" is totally other, i.e., it directs my attention outside myself (i) because what's inside myself is not good enough, and (ii) therefore I have to look to other beliefs and persons in order to be better.

Third, I realized I'm afraid to let "should-ism" go. I realized I am afraid of the void that my ego tells me would be created if I sent Shouldism packing. 

Shouldism is like a stern, disapproving school marm who is constantly correcting, telling me who I am, telling me when I do wrong, never praising me, always telling me I could do better, telling me I am nothing without her, that I am her, that I can't live without her saving me from myself. 

I realized I have been afraid to tell her that she needs to go. I am afraid to confront her for what she has done to me. This has been my normal, and - I mused - she is the only person who loves me, and I can only feel self-love through her.

What, my ego tells me, will happen if I tell her to go, or if I simply leave her classroom? All these "shoulds" have been my identity, have given me my sense of self-worth as I have fulfilled my shoulds (and my should nots). There is the fear that I will be nothing without Shouldism.

As I have typed this and looked at the words I wrote in my journal the other day, I have had other realizations (which is one of the reasons I blog) that are too personal to share here. Suffice it to say that it became clear to me that the school marm has taken on various personifications throughout my life ...

So what, I asked myself, am I going to do about this? First, recognize Shouldism's presence and be conscious of her influence. Second, work at having trust in myself, not in the person my ego thinks I should be. Third, confront - and, hopefully, eventually overcome - the fear of being alone with myself as I banish Shouldism from my life, resting in the belief that I am good enough.

I realize this probably will sound like absolute gibberish to some people (perhaps most) who may read this post. But that's okay. This is for me.

"Trust in myself with all mine heart and lean not upon the ego's
 or others' understanding. In all my ways believe in myself
and my path shall open before me."

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