Sunday, January 10, 2010

Not sure what to call it post

So, this whole losing attachments and not stressing about those darn "shoulds" is awesome.  As I mentioned last week, our holiday celebrations were much less stressful this year because something in me let go of how the holidays "should be" and enjoyed how they actually were in the moment. And now we have had a massive b-day party for both boys and that was also more awesome without expectations. Brief explanation - E's b-day in 1/3 and M's b-day is 1/9, and we often give them a shared party. Yesterday we had almost 30 kids between the ages of 5 and 9 in our house. There was a magician, there was cake and balloons, there were treat bags. There was just a bit of chaos. I don't do well with chaos and yet it was okay.

I had dreams of setting up a table so the children could make crafts (wizard hats and magic wands) but never got organized enough for it. I was so lucky that my friend Alyshia decided to come to the party with her daughter and then helped with corralling kids. The party was so much easier because of her.  The children really enjoyed the magician, Christopher - much laughing aloud.

Normally, the fact that things did not quite happen as I imaged they would leaves me in a ornery lump. This time when I had little swells of guilty "I didn't plan things well enough" and "it was too loud" feelings they disolved almost before I could attach thoughts to them. And when thoughts did attach, I was able to understand that they wer just thoughts, not reality.

A big part of this release is due to thinking about Byron Katie's inquiry process. I love the way she approaches the "shoulds."  You know, like, "It should have gone this way," "I should have done/said/thought/been xyz," "S/he should have blah, blah, blah."  Katie often responds (as part of the "is it true" part of the 4 questions), "Oh really? What's the truth of it? What happened?" So, for example, "I should be patient" is not true because I am not patient. If it were true that I should be patient then I would be patient. And I'm not. So there. ;)

Another thing I noticed at the party was how certain kids were very honest about it being too loud for their comfort and asking very directly to go to a quieter place in the house. I love that! Part of my recent self-realization is that I don't deal well with loudness or multiple streams of information. If more than one person talks to me at once I can't hear them and usually I get nervous because I don't understand what is being said. But when I really acknowledge that I cannot comprehend multiple streams of info, then I let go of the expectation that I should be able to do so, and the stressy-ness of the situation decreases. I can then simply say, "I can't hear you when you talk at the same time. If you want me to hear you, please figure out a way not to talk simultaneously." Ta-da! Magic.


  1. Why do we "should" all over ourselves? Thanks to your blog, and a bit of Kung Fu Panda, I think I'm letting go of the "shoulds" and letting go of the illusion of control. It actually brings a lot of peace. But yeah, I don't do well in chaos or in a lot of noise. This is why my family planning will not include a dozen or so kids spaced close in age.

  2. These are the responses I got on this post from facebook friends (reposted with their permission):

    Jennifer Tomany LeBaron:
    So how do you distinguish from the untrue "shoulds," like "I should have been more patient" and the true "shoulds," like "I should not beat the children"? Are there true "shoulds"? Personally, I have a hard time distinguishing between things I should try to accomplish as a self-improvement exercise (and I DO believe we are all duty-bound to try to improve ourselves in some way), and things I ought to simply accept in order to make life more joyful for myself and those around me.
    Sun at 3:51pm ·

    Traci Robison Klein:
    Ah, isn't that the question! Which of those voices do we need to listen to and which do we need to set aside?
    Sun at 7:17pm ·

  3. This was my response on facebook:
    look at whether the "should" makes me more or less likely to live a good life and whether the should is bringing me pain. "I should be pretty" - painful. "I should not beat the children" - not painful, usually. But I think it is better for me personally to think "I need space because beating the children will cause harm to them and to myself" or... See More "what can I do to change this situation so I am less likely to beat the children" instead.

    I notice that when I say "I should" to myself, it's usually to make myself feel bad, not good. One of the questions Katie asks is whether there is a stress-less reason to keep the particular belief. And, for me personally, most shoulds are only useful to torment myself, because they are usually about the past, which I have not found a way to change.
    Sun at 8:06pm ·