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Shouldism

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Selfcare Posted on

‘Should’ in and of itself carries no negative meaning.

There are gentler, more persuasive words, but there’s been a discussion recently using the label ‘shouldism’ to define negative and unreasonable expectations of ourselves.

I’m sat quite still, not blinking… across an ‘internal’ negotiating table with what I SHOULD be doing.

Across the table the ’SHOULD’ negotiating team’s position is.

  1. I should ring the ‘seven circles of hell’ insurance call centre that I’ve been putting off all year.
  2. I should address a legal work related thing that’s too dull to even write down.
  3. I should go for a run.
  4. I should be working.
  5. I should be ‘doing social media’ to further some unfathomable goal.
  6. Oh, and I should practise my instrument.

My present position in these negotiations stands as this. (Read in a whiney voice)

  1. I had an early start AND made coffee… (obvious I know, but I’m trapped in the cliché that it’s impossible to function without it)
  2. I’ve spent the morning arranging music over Zoom, for one of Jo’s upcoming classes*

*Confession

It’s by no means a chore, it’s literally musicians laughing and playing over Zoom in separate studios (C-19), sharing ideas and there’s a tangible joyous result at the end.

Perhaps you’re thinking ‘that’s not work, it doesn’t count’ in this negotiation at least. You see, being raised in an almost Prussian culture of self-employment means I have an ingrained need of ‘handing in my timesheets and justifying my days to my parents… (and to you, dear reader, in this case).

My permission to own a drum kit WAS based on a strict ‘use it or lose it’ agreement, a lease really.

It was a tough contract and had nothing to do with me leaving home to join a band as soon as the law would allow. Honest.

My final point

I’m really just not feeling it today…

So, with the terms of negotiation set, I decided to take it to arbitration.

In most cases, I like to choose a mediator who will easily bias the outcome in my favour. Some examples:

  • ‘Should I have another beer?’ ~ Ask the nearest musician (preferably a guitarist).
  • ‘Should we discuss theology at Christmas dinner’ ~ No arbitration needed, it’s a firm ’No’
  • ’Should we go to the after-show party ?’ ~ Ask a Tour Manager (NOT a guitarist).
  • ’Should we talk to the neighbour about that truly incredible noise they make?’ ~ Ask Jo, who’s sensible enough to say ‘leave it, honey’.

You get the idea…

In this instance, I had a long lunch with my favourite intermediary, Jo, and the settlement we hammered out is as follows.

Thanks to FB, Instagram, Twitter etc. there is constant pressure to be more, do more, see more, achieve more.

It is important to remember that we still have agency in these clouded times, even more than we realise.

We don’t have to be thrown around by the tidal pull of duty, constant bad news and guilt. A day off from anything is not a high crime.

Perhaps if you find yourself burdened with a similar sense of ennui. ask a guitarist. No… kidding.

Please have a day off.

Ged