For years, my anxiety was aggravated by the constant throb through my mind:
“I should do this!”
“I must do that!”
“I ought to be doing something else!”
Shoulds, musts, and oughts yanked my chain day in and day out, pulling me in a dozen different directions with a hundred conflicting priorities.
I wasn’t living: I was existing. A puppet on strings, exhibiting no freedom of choice and action – just anxious fear that I couldn’t fulfill the dissonant chorus of shoulds, musts, and oughts.
Now I know: I have the gift of choice. I can examine everything that comes at me in life to determine what I “should,” in fact, do. To decide what is imperative – a “must” – and what is not. To weigh carefully whether I “ought” to engage in a certain activity.
Do you hear the words? “Examine.” “Determine.” “Decide.” “Weigh.”
Those were the words of freedom and will and choice that were missing before. Instead, my anxiety said, “You should do everything! You must do it at once! You ought to do it better!”
Now I respond, “No – I shouldn’t do everything. I will not do it all at once. I will do my best and not require perfection.”
And within, I hear the sweet stillness I had forgotten called “Peace.”