From a very small age, we get the notion that things need to be done a certain way, or else. We make up our own logic and rules about the way we need to do our lives with this impending threat looming that if we don’t do it that way, there’ll be consequences. I had some ritual at age 5 where I had to pull up my underwear and jump from the chair to the bed or I wouldn’t be safe from the creatures under my bed. And I am watching me daughter do the same sort of “must be dones” too.
I think we forget the original reason why we got to doing stuff a certain way and it’s just become a march of the musts as we live on autopilot never asking ourselves why we do it this way. It’s just always been that way. Either our real or our internalized parents told us to do it that way and we’re good girls and boys and no longer question why.
I felt grumbly and slightly resentful yesterday as I spent a chunk of my Saturday afternoon cleaning the bathrooms I’d been putting off cleaning. But there was just this absolute in my head that it had to happen now. Either the bathrooms got cleaned or I…. am a bad mother? Or I … will be a procrastinator. Or I … won’ t be able to earn my playtime? I didn’t wanna but I had to.
Would I have felt better if I’d given myself until the next day to clean the bathrooms. Maybe, maybe not. Do children need choices? Absolutely but the right ones. Do we make stuff up in our heads about foul consequences for our wrong choices. Of course. But I am certain that we are much harder on ourselves about anything than others would be.
Tell your inner parent to lighten up and consider the options more and see if the universe really will fall apart if you don’t do it right now in that way. You may be surprised to hear your wisdom is kinder and more attuned to you than you think.
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