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Shoulda…Coulda…Have-ta

Attention Fatigue

There are so many musts and ‘breaking news’…like if I don’t stop everything and pay attention right now, I’m doomed. It’s called attention fatigue, my guess is many of us have it. The first step is being aware that we’re being pushed and pulled, every day.

I remind myself that, I don’t have to do all the “shoulds, coulds, have-tas.” I can take a breath, I can remember to stop listening to all those outside voices who say… do this, you must do this, if you don’t do this, you’re not a good enough _________ (partner, employee, son/daughter, sibling, community member.) I’m wondering if, post pandemic, we will go back to being so busy that we don’t have time to:

  • Call people on the phone – talk to them… not text them… actually talk
  • Create – write, make art, cook, garden… whatever expresses their joy
  • Be thoughtful about purchases
  • Eat healthy
  • Laugh and live in the day

There is No “Right” Way

There’s no right answer as to how we live our lives. There’s no manual. I ask myself if my life has the meaning that I want? If you are in school or working… setting aside daily frustrations, when you step back, are you doing today what you want to? Don’t think about it too much, check your gut. It scary for me to admit that the answer is no. That the way I spend my days.. my precious time and creativity, is not directed in a way that I want or shows appreciation for the gifts that I’ve been given.

Starting Today

If I am not happy with the havetas, shouldas & couldas; how do I begin to make change? If I look inside myself… thoughtfully… I’ll see what I want and need. I confess that this has not been an easy. I feel like a failure; how did I get this old, only to be dissatisfied with where I am? Trying not to judge myself, I want to just pay attention.

I don’t regret my decisions, after all, I made the best decision I could at the time. I’ve learned from them. But I really didn’t think through what I wanted for my life when I made them. So when I made choices, I was mostly thinking about:

  1. The people around me and what they would think or say
  2. My own social programming, is what I am ‘supposed’ to do (because everyone else is)?
  3. Isolation, I already felt it, would what little approval I had be withdrawn?

Making a Decision

This is my promise to myself…

  • eliminate ‘should’ from my vocabulary,
  • believe in and trust myself
  • pay attention to my reaction to what others say to me
  • do the best I can and celebrate, every day. Let’s go!

Image credit: Positively present

We Can Do This

The world needs exactly what each of us has to offer. “Be bold and great forces will come to your aid.” Goethe For ideas about changing your life, beginning with the work you do, check out: https://authenticmeaningfulwork.com/


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2 Responses
  • alex
    May 14, 2021

    I relate to so much of this! From the attention fatigue and constantly feeling like I need to know “what’s going on”, to the realizing that I don’t spend the day doing what I truly want, to the social programming. I think it’s hard once I’ve become used to something and realize “hey this works” to step away but there’s a big part of me that thinks about how I even got there and also wants to be happy with the way I spend my life. I love the points in Making a Decision – I believe! Hoping the best for you as well 🙂 Thank you for this

  • Deborah
    May 16, 2021

    Hi Alex, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. We’re on this journey together, glad to be going with you, debbie

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