Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

1.1.11=looking back


In my previous post, I mentioned that I don’t make resolutions.  I’m not going to wait until one day each year to make positive changes in my life.

But I can’t help but look back at the previous year on this day.  And this year, I have a lot of “shoulds” in my reflection.  I feel as if I should be further ahead–in my personal life, in my academic life.  I should have made more progress.  I shouldn’t be stuck in a depression that was here last year at this time.  And I shouldn’t be needing ECT again.  And I should just get with the program and be happy.

I keep having “should” running through my head.  Almost every sentence begins with that word.  I have this tendency to be hard on myself.  I have a feeling I’m not the only one reading these words who is hard on themselves, either.  People who suffer from all types of addictions and mental illnesses have a tendency to be hard on themselves.

So I am practicing a couple of DBT skills.  The idea of being gentle with myself.  Maybe a lot of those “shoulds” really are true.  But even though they’re true, they don’t take away from the progress I’ve made this year and they don’t negate my accomplishments.  And there’s this idea of emotional mind versus rational mind.  A lot of my “shoulds” fall into the emotion mind side of things.  I’m trying to look at things from a more rational point of view and talking back to those “shoulds” with more realistic statements.  This moves me into a more wise mind state of being.

Most of all, it’s a matter of acceptance.  A skill I’m not all good at.  But I can’t change anything that happened.  I can learn from what happened, but I can’t change anything.  I could sit here and play over all of my regrets, but that wouldn’t really do me any good.  In fact, it would make me feel a hell of a lot worse about myself.  But if I look at the year as a learning experience and take that knowledge with me into 2011, I can grow as a person and live more fully and more freely.

Out with the “shoulds” and on to what may come.


January 1, 2011 - Posted by | mindfulness, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. First, thank you so much for this post, I’ve been struggling with this a lot now that 2010 is over, so I really appreciate you sharing your insight.

    (I was once in a DBT group, but that a few years ago, so I’m quite rusty now…) I, like so many people, struggle with the dreaded “should”s as well. Such a cruel word 😦 But are they necessarily part of the emotional mind, or does it depend on the person? For me it feels like some of my shoulds (maybe not all), is my rational mind speaking, saying that logically speaking, I did a, b, and c, so that equation should add up – I should be happy, productive, etc.; but I can use my emotional mind to tell myself I’m human, I have feelings, I can’t be perfect, and I’m not a robot that can be defined by equations. Or are those my logical thought? Gah! I really need to brush up on my DBT skills – thanks for reminding me! For me, at least, I have to work on nourishing my emotional mind, and being in the present, instead of numbing myself from my emotions through studying, over-thinking, etc.

    And yes, “Out with the “shoulds” and on to what may come.” – that’s a great message to walk away with ❤

    Comment by anon | January 1, 2011 | Reply

  2. I feel the same about New Years Resolutions. Actually, I stopped making them the year I spent NY inpatient because I realized two things- one that my resolutions always contained very negative goals and two, why wait until NY to make a resolution. You can make one any day- plus I feel like every day in recovery is a NY resolution if that makes any sense. On another note, I am glad you are practicing DBT skills. I also “should” a lot and replaying those shoulds definately do not help in any way. I hope 2011 brings about more happiness for you 🙂

    Comment by Jessica | January 2, 2011 | Reply

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