A little personal diatribe about comparing yourself to others, impostor syndrome and shoulding all over yourself.
Have you been shoulding all over yourself?
Are the voices playing in your head starting sentences with:
You should this ...
or You should that …
or I should …
It’s not originating within you.
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Have you been shoulding all over yourself?
Are the voices playing in your head these days starting sentences with You should this ... or You should that… Or I should …
You know, “I should …” feels a little better, a little more like you’re driving, you’re in control, it’s intentional … but beware the “I should probably …”
Hmm. That “probably” … That’s external. That is not originating within you.
And along with all the things you’re telling yourself you should be doing, if you do them, then it feels like you’re faking it. It feels like a mask. It feels like a white lie, at best. And if you’re supposed to be shining your light, then putting a mask over that dims it.
It’s a shade.
Impostor syndrome — who the F do you think you are, acting like you’re some kind of star. Nobody’s buying it. Look at so and so over there, look at HER instagram. She knows how to do it. She’s barely even trying.
And now we’re into Comparisonitis.
See, this malaise is actually sort of a cluster of mind virus cancer cells — it's comparisonitis and impostor syndrome (referred to in pharmaceutical commercials as IS) — and shoulding all over yourself.
That's the big symptom.
The past month or so, in my world, was difficult.
In addition to all the typical holiday stuff and just having all your routines interrupted, my dad was also in the hospital. And although I should have had a lot of excuses and reasons to cut myself some slack, instead I just kept thinking of all the things that a "Real FB group host" would post.
I kept being presented with the idea of things I was “supposed” to do or things I “ought” to do.
It actually became a little ridiculous. Because I was aware of it, as a voice, as a program, playing in the background. Like a tv left on across the room.
Somebody turn that shit OFF already!
I thought I ought to be posting Solstice message, because I would prefer to acknowledge THAT among all the holidays that we're acknowledging during the holidays and I felt like I needed to let everyone know I'm down with solstice.
And then of course, do I do a Christmas message? That's always kid of awkward for a non-Christian because we celebrate quasi-pagan American Christmas. I don't know. That's a conflict in and of itself.
And then a New Years message. That's a huge one for personal development bloggers and self-help people like me. I saw all these happy new year messages in the Facebook community and I felt like as the administrator, the originator of our group, I “should” somehow beam in. I "should" somehow appear in a FB live video or something. I’m going to have to come back and do another post addressing goal setting and milestones and intentions and all that stuff, because it’s a topic unto itself, and it's a little bit too much of a tangent at this moment. These were the kinds of things that were crossing my mind when I say I was "shoulding" all over myself. Those were the detailed examples in the moment of how that was all manifesting.
But the reality is, what I wanted to do during the Holidays, once the actual holidays hit and everyone was off doing all their stuff, I just wanted to RETREAT.
Self care was definitely what was called for and I don't think anyone who looked in and took a peek at what was going on in my world and the lives of those close to me and my family and all that, I don't think anyone would have argued with me that, you know, you need to just be focused on some self care.
But I felt like, in order to claim that, I had to REBEL.
I sure as shit couldn't "phone it in" or go through the motions (because that’s IS for sure. Impostor syndrome. We're calling it IS now).
By rebel I mean not “call in sick”, not apologize. I didn’t want to have to explain it or announce it or do a Facebook post about how I'm not going to be on Facebook. That annoys me.
I just wanted to ghost.
Aka the Irish goodbye, the French exit, and any number of other ethnophobic terms—which means leaving a social gathering without saying goodbye. One minute you’re there at the bar, the party ... And then the next minute you’re just gone.
Where did he go?
I’ve been practicing that for as long as I can remember. I know since childhood I can remember at least an elementary school age Halloween costume party of some type at some time when I ghosted. It required my mother's assistance because of course she was driving. But somehow I pulled off a ghosting.
Leaving without anyone noticing is one of the components of invisibility magic, which is something that I can say that I'm good at, or that I enjoy practicing. I don't know that I ENJOY it. I think I had to learn how to do it for any number of reasons. I enjoy the fact that I'm good at it and it's kind of fun to watch the effects of good invisibility magic. I think, wow, it's cool that I can do that.
I’ll talk about that another time too.
But this idea of ghosting, the Irish goodbye, the French exit, my friends in college kind of probably hated that about me. I was known to do it. I let it be a THING I was known for, because then it was just a blank cheque. I could do it all the time.
After college, friends always wanted to ride with me when we went out because I didn’t drink. I did designated driver on New Years Eve for, I can't even remember how many years.
But I always used to say, “Alright. You can ride with me to the club, but I WILL disappear on you, so just be prepared… I'll get you there but you gotta figure out how you're getting home. Because I will disappear."
Interestingly, when I think back to that, I realize what I REALLY wanted to be doing when I wanted to disappear from the club was the same thing that I wanted to be doing now when I disappeared from everything.
I just wanted to be home, reading a book. And that's exactly what I did for New Years.
Not New Years Eve. New Years Day.
I actually prefer New Years Day so much that I just go to bed in preparation on New Years Eve of having a luscious New Years Day.
My New Years Day's intentions were to really truly just take the day off, do nothing, but drink caffeine, coffee, tea, watch Netflix and read. And stay in my pajamas all day.
It's HARD for me not to work at least a little bit every day. And I did end up working for about 10 minutes. Because it was a Tuesday, and I forgot to schedule everything, so I had to jump on Facebook and share a few links to my latest podcast episode — for the sake of my guest, really, more than for me. If it had been one of these solo episodes, I would've just been like, eh, I'll do it tomorrow.
But I didn't want her to not get the full, you know, backing and sharing and promotion that her show deserves.
By the way, just for the record, lying all around day in pajamas not doing anything … was depressing. It was physically depressing. It programmed my body in a way that was really uncomfortable to me and I don’t think that I'm ever going to even try that again.
It honestly felt like being sick, but I wasn’t. And it kind of made me almost have symptoms of being tired, like feeling fatigue. And who wants that?
Through all this, on New Years Day even, when I was really just intentionally ghosting everything. I kept thinking: * Are the people in the SYS community wondering where I am? * Do they realize I’m missing? * Are they disappointed that I’m not putting some helpful something on their feed today?
And I don't mean are they wondering where I am, do they miss me... like I wanted to be missed. It was more like, "Oh crap, I hope I can get away with this and that they really don't care." Because I really need this.
And I feel like if I could've asked you all to vote, you probably would've said it's okay. And there were so many wonderful Happy New Year messages on there anyway. I would kind of look at them and scan once in awhile, oh those are nice! You know, whoever's in there looking for that is getting a lot of it. They don't need mine. It's just a drop in the bucket at this point.
To tell you honestly, it sometimes feels like I’ve thrown a party on social media and then chosen to stay upstairs. Like I'm having a party in my house but I'm just hanging out in my bedroom with my cats because social media for me has always been a necessity of my business more than a real kind of personal impulse.
My personal impulse is always to ghost.
I don't know. Did you guys criticize my absence? Did you think, “Wow. What a lousy leader he is…”
Or did you even notice? Or did you think maybe I was recovering from a stressful holiday period with a parent in the hospital, because you saw me post about that. So you kind of knew, maybe, what was going on for me.
You know what? Who cares what you think about me? WHO CARES WHAT ANYONE THINKS? About you. Or me. Or anyone.
That’s kind of the point of all those thoughts — all the Shoulding all over yourself.
What do you really want to do? What do you need? Why isn’t that acceptable? Why isn't that enough?
How are you shoulding all over yourself? What areas of your life? What’s it about?
It’s gotta be about something to do with the public. With other people. With those around you outside your own head. With some perceived external judgment from the world.
But is that even real? Or are you projecting it?
And what happens if you just don’t? If you’re honest with your true inclinations and desires and needs and you just say:
I’m not going.
I’m not showing up.
I’m not calling.
I’m not explaining.
I’m not apologizing.
Even as I say that, I’m thinking “Isn’t that a little rude though? You gotta make some excuses and apologies just to keep from hurting other people’s feelings…”
One of my favorite memes is a picture of a T-shirt that I really need to track down and order: It's just a black t-shirt and it has big white block letters on it and it says “SORRY I’M LATE. I DIDN’T WANT TO COME.”
That kinda sums up my social life.
I'm one of those people that gets excited if you cancel plans with me. I go, "Oh yes!" I feel a sense of relief. It still assumes an apology. "Sorry I'm late. I didn't want to come."
It draws sarcastic attention to the issue and makes you more of an asshole.
But one of my favorite Oprah quotes, or Oprah-isms is “NO" IS A COMPLETE ANSWER.
It’s okay to say No. Without an excuse or an explanation or a white lie or a justification
What if you just say No? What can you really get away with just saying No to?
If you’re a spiritual person and you're trying to better yourself and be best, you probably want to come from a place of Yes.
So, that’s sticky, right? I want to come from a place of Yes but I need to say no and not apologize for it when I need to.
It sounds good, but that's all kind of hard to follow through on, I think. So maybe do this. Maybe get clear about what are you saying Yes to for the right or wrong reasons. What are you saying No to for the right or wrong reasons?
Just get clear about that.
Do you say No because of a fear of success? Then you should probably come from a place of Yes then right?
It’s so easy to convince ourselves that every invitation is an opportunity. Have you ever thought something like, "Yeah, but what if I don't go to the Christmas party and my soul mate was there and we didn't meet."
Some bad romantic comedy situation.
But let’s be honest—you know there are some things you just want to say No to.
What happens if you say No? Really, what happens?
What about instead of explaining or apologizing, you just don’t say the word 'sorry' anymore.
There was a meme going around last year that I loved so much. And it was about replacing Sorry with Thank you. Instead of “Sorry I’m late” you say “Thank you for waiting on me.” Instead of “Sorry I’m talking your ear off” you say “Thank you for taking the time to listen."
I know Oprah said No is a complete answer, but I think we can still make it pretty.
You could say: “Thank you for the invitation. I’m really grateful you included me. I won’t be able to attend. Have a fantastic time! Let’s catch up soon and you can tell me all about it.”
They're excited. They're don't want to hear about the drama going on in your world that you're using as an excuse not to come. So just wish them well. Wish them happiness and say, "Have a great time. Tell me about it later."
Are you mad at me, for choosing to be alone in my tower over the holidays? And just ignore all that Solstice, Christmas, New Year stuff and just not be there for it.
Are you disappointed? Do you resent me?
You’re not. You don't.
I’ve talked to some of you about this and I know what your response is...
And, you know, your friends and family and clients, they're probably okay with your choices too.
Whatever it is you’re trying to be:
perfect parent perfect professional perfect creative perfect partner perfect spouse perfect planner
You notice the theme there…
Shoulding all over yourself is about perfectionism.
You’re not going to be perfect. It’s not going to be perfect.
Maybe as we remove the words sorry and should from our vocabulary, and we can also remove the word perfect.
My friend Seth has a mantra for this: “It always turns out wonderful anyway."