Mental Health Without the Bullshit

Challenging the 'Shoulds': Navigating Life's Expectations and Embracing Self-Acceptance with Kayla Clark

December 13, 2023 James Marrugo, NCC, LPCC Episode 20
Challenging the 'Shoulds': Navigating Life's Expectations and Embracing Self-Acceptance with Kayla Clark
Mental Health Without the Bullshit
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Mental Health Without the Bullshit
Challenging the 'Shoulds': Navigating Life's Expectations and Embracing Self-Acceptance with Kayla Clark
Dec 13, 2023 Episode 20
James Marrugo, NCC, LPCC

Imagine a world where you're no longer burdened by the heavy weight of societal and familial 'shoulds'. In this thought-provoking conversation with Kayla Clark, an LPC, we take you on a journey through the maze of life's expectations, helping you find the courage to carve your own path. Together, we unpack the concept of 'shoulds', exploring how they shape our lives and impact our mental health, and offer valuable insights from our personal experiences.

This episode helps you navigate this tightrope, emphasizing the importance of being true to yourself and setting boundaries, even if it disappoints others. We dig deep into the negative impacts of 'shoulds', revealing how they can lead to burnout and a lack of fulfillment. Through the lens of our therapy experiences, we guide you on the path toward prioritizing your mental health and uncovering your genuine desires.

Promising a transformative learning experience, we challenge societal expectations and aid you in replacing the word 'should' with more compassionate language. We guide you through the process of overcoming people-pleasing, embracing self-acceptance, and learning to distinguish your desires from the expectations of others. By the end of this episode, you'll not only be armed with the tools to challenge your 'shoulds', but also be inspired to create the life you genuinely desire. So, join us for this deep dive into self-discovery and come away with a fresh perspective on life's 'shoulds'.

More about Kayla Clark, LPC:
https://www.bewellcounselingco.com/

More about James Marrugo, LPC:
https://morningcoffeecounseling.com/

If there are questions you want answered or topics you want me to cover, send me an email at
James.Marrugo@MorningCoffeeCounseling.com

Music by AlexGrohl from Pixabay

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine a world where you're no longer burdened by the heavy weight of societal and familial 'shoulds'. In this thought-provoking conversation with Kayla Clark, an LPC, we take you on a journey through the maze of life's expectations, helping you find the courage to carve your own path. Together, we unpack the concept of 'shoulds', exploring how they shape our lives and impact our mental health, and offer valuable insights from our personal experiences.

This episode helps you navigate this tightrope, emphasizing the importance of being true to yourself and setting boundaries, even if it disappoints others. We dig deep into the negative impacts of 'shoulds', revealing how they can lead to burnout and a lack of fulfillment. Through the lens of our therapy experiences, we guide you on the path toward prioritizing your mental health and uncovering your genuine desires.

Promising a transformative learning experience, we challenge societal expectations and aid you in replacing the word 'should' with more compassionate language. We guide you through the process of overcoming people-pleasing, embracing self-acceptance, and learning to distinguish your desires from the expectations of others. By the end of this episode, you'll not only be armed with the tools to challenge your 'shoulds', but also be inspired to create the life you genuinely desire. So, join us for this deep dive into self-discovery and come away with a fresh perspective on life's 'shoulds'.

More about Kayla Clark, LPC:
https://www.bewellcounselingco.com/

More about James Marrugo, LPC:
https://morningcoffeecounseling.com/

If there are questions you want answered or topics you want me to cover, send me an email at
James.Marrugo@MorningCoffeeCounseling.com

Music by AlexGrohl from Pixabay

Speaker 1:

Hello, welcome to another episode of Mental Health. Hello, welcome to another episode of Mental Health. That's bullshit. For today's episode, I wanted to talk about the shoulds of life, but before we get into the meat of this conversation, I have another new guest introduce, kayla. Go ahead and let the listeners hear your voice.

Speaker 2:

Hello, my name is Kayla Clark, I'm an LPC and I have a private practice here in Denver called Bewell Counseling. I'm originally from Kentucky, I spent five years in Houston and I've been in Denver for the past year.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for that. Welcome to Denver. Thank you so excited to have you on you and I met through a mutual friend, angela, who's also been on the podcast several times. I'm glad she introduced us. We hit it off very well during our first meeting and you wanted to do a podcast episode with me on the shoulds, something you work closely with, something I work closely with. Before we get into any further details, what is a should? What are we, you and I even talking about?

Speaker 2:

So when we think about the language that we hear often that kind of molds, what we're supposed to do with our life, the direction that we're supposed to go, we hear lots of shoulds, and so I kind of like to define shoulds as inflexible expectations. There's not a lot of gray, so we're just talking about I'm supposed to do this or I should do this, and if I don't, then what does that mean?

Speaker 1:

I love that Inflexible expectations. Where do these even come from?

Speaker 2:

We usually get them from society as a whole you know the way that the world moves telling us what we should do. We also get those from our immediate systems, our immediate family systems growing up, the morals, the beliefs that we're grown up with or that we're taught, and then often there's a discrepancy between what our family systems say and what the world says, and sometimes they're exactly the same. And so trying to find ourself, our individuality, in the midst of the world, and our family systems telling us which way to go and how to live our lives.

Speaker 1:

I love how you framed it, that some of the shoulds are congruent with who we are, part of our identity, our sense of self.

Speaker 1:

This is something I struggled with as a therapist in general. A lot of my professors and a lot of the information I gathered before becoming a full-fledged professional in this space was a lot of shoulds as far as how I should operate as a therapist, what I should charge, the hours I should have, the clients I should see, and for me in particular for those of you who've never seen my face I'm an immigrant, my parents are immigrants, I'm a first-generation American. I obviously don't look like you're average American, and so a lot of people push me towards I should go see other minorities specifically, and only minorities, because I am a minority therapist. And, for those of you who don't know, I'm Colombian. Both my parents are Colombian, both immigrants, and I followed that at first and it didn't work too well for me. It was hard to get clients that way. I was interested in more things than just this ethnic minority and mental health, but everyone kept telling me I should do this because I'm brown.

Speaker 1:

Basically is how I took it. I have no fault of theirs. I totally understand the majority of therapists in the world, particularly in Colorado, or predominantly white. There isn't a mass amount of representation for ethnic minorities and I do have plenty of minority clients who are identified in the minority. But I was restricting myself to only those individuals because people told me I should. You're having a reaction now that anyone else can see. What runs through your mind when I was telling you my personal story of engaging in the shoulds of life.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I really appreciate that. So what I'm hearing is usually people mean well when they are trying to guide us and saying you should do this, or have you thought about this? You should, you should, you should, and they usually mean well or they have, especially when I think about people in our family who are older than us, who have more life experience, who are trying to guide us in a good direction. Often they just mean well for us. There's that line of straddling, you know, listening to and taking the advice of people that care about us, gently, also including our own feelings and our own experiences and what really feels good to us. I see so many people take those shoulds and let you know, kind of to your story. This is, must be what I have to do. I have to go this way. This is what all the voices are telling me is that this is the way to be successful and it's you're not uncommon Like.

Speaker 2:

Lots of people follow that path and they do all of the shoulds, and those are my clients. It's I've done all the things. I've done all the things that I should do or that I'm supposed to do, and I'm still feeling unfulfilled. What, what, what did I do wrong. Where did I go wrong? And it's really not a matter of doing it wrong. It's just a matter of realigning with who you are. We can accept the people in our lives who are trying to guide us. I think it's really about also including ourselves in that equation, not just what the people in our lives are telling us is the best route.

Speaker 1:

Love it. Yeah, that's what happened to me. I was, I was slightly unfulfilled as a therapist because I was doing all the things I I should do Not only the clients I saw, but also the rate I had at the time, my hours of operation and private practice, how I give therapy and what that looks like. And then I also said plenty of people told me I should, you know, focus on men with anger issues and get into anger management. And it's something I do inherently because it just kind of comes with the territory.

Speaker 1:

Being a therapist, you'll you'll find anger issues, but it's not something I want to solely focus on, because I'm interested in so many different parts of a person's mental health and so many different demographics and different types of therapy modalities. It's always been a challenge for me to pick any one particular thing, but that's something people keep telling me I should do is pick one thing and stick with it, and I've learned to say, fuck that, I'm going to just do what I want to do and fulfill my own needs, because this is what makes me happy and this is what makes what I do sustainable is not focusing on the shoulds, and one thing you had mentioned prior to us recording is an immediate system. Could you define what you mean by an immediate system and how that interacts with shoulds?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, our immediate system. So I think about, you know, who did we grow up with? Our caregivers, our parents, people, adults that we really looked up to, coaches or teachers, like people really tighten it, who have encouraged us, who do mean well. So when I think about immediate system, it's those who are the people on your favorites list, probably in your cell phone, right, like who are those contacts that you're going to call? The ones that mold us, that encourages, the ones that teach us the morals, the values, the right from wrong, from their experience. So, immediate system being those people we're going to turn to, often also for advice. And then here come the shoulds. Right, and you know, something that I thought about as I was listening to you was often times those shoulds. I think about the vulnerability of the should here and let me gather my thoughts for just a second.

Speaker 2:

Often, when someone is telling us what we should do, if we decide not to do that, and then it turns out to be the right thing, because someone that's older than us is trying to guide us and tell us, like, don't do this thing that you're wanting to do, you should do this I hear a lot of fear of being told. I told you so. It's really common the fear of, like, disappointing this person or these persons who are telling us which way to go, and the fear of the I told you so, and so often the work that I even do with, like older parents, is not, I mean essentially that shaming someone. And so when we already have the vulnerability, and then the fear of if we did it the way we want it to and it turned out not to be the right way, the fear of being vulnerable and letting these people know I didn't do this, and then we feel shame. If we're, if we're met with well, I told you that wasn't going to work, or I told you what you should have done, and so even hearing the difference in being responded to, when we are able to say, oh gosh, I tried to do this my way and it didn't work. The vulnerability of the I told you so and I hear that a lot personal life and with clients, you know and then we're in a position of what do I do?

Speaker 2:

The vulnerability and the bravery and the courage that it took to try to do this the way that I thought was the best way, and that actually turned out to not be the right thing, like I'm thinking about for you as a therapist. You know what if the way that you wanted to do it hadn't worked out? And then we have to kind of put our foot in our mouth and say, oh gosh, maybe I thought about that too soon or maybe I acted too quickly on this thought, or sometimes there's even a rebellion of, like all these people are telling me I should do this. So fuck, I'm not doing that, I'm going to do it the way that I want to.

Speaker 2:

So, just listening to you, I thought about the fear of the. I told you so if we went against the should, regardless those are still inflexible expectations that are being put on us and regardless we still have to come back to self, what it, what feels like the best thing for me, and the ability to, in the face of the I told you so say you know, I tried and it just didn't work for me. And so now I'm here trying this thing again. I see that I told you so is often shaming people away from vulnerability and getting back into the. Well, maybe I should just do what other people tell me to do.

Speaker 1:

I love that. As you were talking, a couple things came up for me in regards to shoulds. Essentially, ignoring the shoulds and doing what you want requires vulnerability and self-acceptance, which is something that's not always easily obtained in our individual headspace. In that also, you have to put yourself out there knowing you're going to come up against the shoulds almost like a wall of things not to do, but it's not something you've set for yourself. For example, me starting this podcast, I had a lot of things I told myself I should do. Then I realized I was starting a podcast to avoid the shoulds, so then I should do what I want. Then and.

Speaker 1:

I should should myself in a way that's healthy and constructive. I had to accept that I'm not going to have a typical podcast format in terms of releasing episodes or how I conduct myself in a podcast episode, who I interact with and how I interact with that individual. It requires me to be vulnerable and have self-acceptance for what I need and want, put myself out there. So a lot of the shoulds of life and you and I working with individuals who are dealing with shoulds and shame and guilt and feeling rejected it's also a lot of its vulnerability work, then. Would you agree?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, Absolutely. When I was thinking about this and preparing for this with you today. Just Brene Brown comes up so often. For me, so much of her work is about vulnerability. She wrote Braving the Wilderness, which is essentially this the wilderness being your truth, and how we have these rigidities, this like black and white lens, and how do we live in the gray, in a space that really is vulnerable for us but also is more aligned with us?

Speaker 1:

Absolutely 100%, and so people who follow the shoulds probably struggling for their own acceptance vulnerability. Could you also argue that following the shoulds is a way to people, please, to gain acceptance?

Speaker 2:

Yes, I have lots of examples rushed in my mind. But again back to what I said about the fear and afraid of the. I told you sos, or the. If we're not encouraged to trust ourselves or believe in ourselves, or we're not encouraged to make mistakes or explore things that are in our best interest, if we don't have safe people to hold us in that vulnerability, then the people pleasing absolutely increases. It is a matter of what other people want for me and that's what I should do.

Speaker 2:

Often there is a fear of disappointing others, and I see that a lot more in the immediate, like family systems, than I do in like the big picture.

Speaker 2:

It's well, I don't want to disappoint my mom or I don't want to disappoint my dad, and so I should go visit for the holiday or I should send them this, because I've done it, you know every year, or you know lots of examples that you know if you're listening and you're thinking about all the shoulds that you probably have within your family system, they can be a lot and they can be really heavy.

Speaker 2:

And so when we're talking about aligning with yourself over and over, often described as selfish, which it is not right it's really centered in self versus self centered is kind of the definition that I give to dissipate this, the selfish piece, because I hear a lot of like people pleasing, not wanting to disappoint others, the opposite of. Well, if I don't do that, then I'm a selfish person, and so I do talk a lot about selfish, being very self centered. I don't care about anybody else or anybody else's thoughts or anybody else's feelings. I'm just always going to do whatever I want to do, and that the difference in that being centered in self is oh, I'm a person to and how I feel about this and my energy to give to this is also valuable and is also important. So I'm going to start here and then make my decisions from here, and that kind of is the antidote I see often to the selfishness that I see absolutely tethered with the people pleasing.

Speaker 1:

I love the you describing being selfish in comparison to centering. I have not ever found a way to help my clients differentiate between the two, so that's mine now. I'm just going to use that. Yeah, take it, it's great.

Speaker 2:

I get that reaction from clients right, they're like but I'm going to be selfish, and so we just give this definition is very clear like self centered versus centered in self. It often gets a oh okay, because I'm not a selfish person. But I will say I see this more often in women that that selfish piece of like if I cared about this person then I should do blank. And so I see, like lots of care about who I am as a person is tied to all of these shoulds and these musts and these have tos that are not always self aligned or centered in self. First, it is absolutely pulls out the people pleasing tendencies.

Speaker 1:

I love that you brought that up with the the difference in how this presents in gender, because I have seen the same. I don't have probably as many female clients as you have. What I work on with my men it's a mix. They're usually on one or two extremes either they're selfish from those definitions and they're not centered. They're selfish, usually coming from a place of protecting oneself and they're struggling with the shoulds because of it, or the complete opposite end of the spectrum of you know being people pleasing and I'm trying to help them become more centered on on themselves and not consider it being selfish. And with the female clients I've had, there's a couple of individuals who immediately came to mind. As you're talking. I've seen more of oh, I'll be selfish and if I care, this is how I should be and I meet. Reaction always in my head is like fuck that.

Speaker 1:

Like that's that that's not serving you, though, and you, you also need to be served for yourself and for people who actually care about you. This relationship you're in is questionable to me at this point, if this is the mentality that's coming out. I'm not I'm not too sure about this as your therapist, but uses my inner monologue, and I have to wait and see how this plays out, but I love that there's a you focus on defining the two that one is centered on self and the other is being selfish, and selfish is someone who just couldn't get to shits about their impact on on the community and others, and one thing we've kind of alluded to is how the shoulds are contradictory. What are your thoughts on that? How would you define that?

Speaker 2:

Shoulds being contradictory when we think about so. There's a there's a phrase in the clinical world called shooting on yourself, and it's meant to sound like shooting on yourself on purpose, because that is often what it feels like. And so when we think about shooting on ourselves, also shooting on others and we've talked about those interrelational dynamics a little bit projecting on others and rejecting certain aspects of other people is often just a reflection of ourselves. So shoulds being contradictory. Honestly, I kind of harped on this topic a little bit. From the monologue in the Barbie movie there's a moment where one of the actresses speaks to all of the contradictory ideals for women and for mothers, and we hear this often. It's like you know, be pretty, but don't be too pretty to attract too much attention, or keep it, keep a really clean house, but also like, let your children like live and play. And so we can. I mean, we could sit here and talk all day long about the contradictory ways of how we should be living. And when we think about that, even when I think about that, I start to feel the overwhelm of like. But then what am I supposed to do, even as a clinician, when I'm like building my website, I'm hearing like be professional, but like also be you, but just speak the way that you normally are, but also maybe tailor it to this audience. And so you know lots of overwhelm and like but what am I supposed to do? So many shoulds that again we're talking about our point us in directions that are not centered in self, that do not start here. We're just listening to, which is helpful. I think we need to be able to have the ability to listen to others, to people who are older than us, wiser than us, who are going, who have already gone down the path that we're trying to go. I think that's important, but holding those shoulds very lightly, because if we get caught in it and I hear this with clients all the time it's like well, this friend said I should do this and my mom says I should do this. Hey, kayla, what should I do? I don't fucking know. I don't know what you're supposed to do. My job is to help you figure out what feels best for you and I. Just this constant world of contradictory in the shoulds. You should be successful and have a career, but you should also have a family, but you should like want to stay home with your children, but you should also want to work. There's a lot of them that pull us in the directions away from being centered in self, and so when I think about us projecting on to others, often this is kind of seated in that people pleasing space of well, I've done what I should do, so how dare that person do what they want? They should also do blank. And really, you know, I encourage people to look at that.

Speaker 2:

When we're shooting on other people, it is often not always, but often a reflection of wishing that we had the vulnerability or the bravery that they're experiencing. I think being here at kind of in the holiday season is just really good example. There's a lots of shoulds that come up around the holidays how we should spend our time, how we should celebrate, and even in myself I see people like taking vacation for the holiday and I'm like, shouldn't you be at home with your families? Like no, it's because I want to be taking a vacation for the holiday. But there's this, this pressure and these obligations that just come with being human and come with being in systems and come with being in relationships, where we have to come back to self. So when we are noticing shooting on others, I encourage people to reflect on that. What are they doing? That I wish that I had the courage or the bravery to do. And that's again just going right back into the contradictory pieces.

Speaker 1:

I love that people projecting and rejecting others through their shoulds because it's happened to them, and then we turn it around and do it to others as well. This is something I've had direct contact with as a clinician.

Speaker 1:

When I entered private practice and set my rates, I met with a lot of shoulds from other therapists who, eventually, some of them admitted that they wanted a higher rate for themselves or to have a certain way of functioning in business. And those are the first people who I felt rejected from telling me I should do things differently, I should lower my rate to $20 an hour.

Speaker 1:

I was thinking that's financially unaffordable, so no, but whatever. And I met with a lot of that, and it took me a bit of time to come to terms with their projecting. And my definition of a projection is denying something about yourself and attributing it to another person or thing, such as your example of you know. Shouldn't that person be with their family instead of going on a vacation with? The reality is, you have to admit, you're the one who wants to go on a vacation. It's just not something that's happening right now.

Speaker 1:

And so then, this, this sense of rejection and guilt, shame, envy, a lot of uncomfortable thoughts and feelings come up when we interact with the, with the shoulds, and we end up rejecting another person's authenticity is just something you like talked about as well, something you, you approach as well, as they're doing what they want. How come I can't is not something that comes up, it's they shouldn't, because if they don't, then I don't have to feel bad about myself. And so by rejecting their authenticity, we're effectively dealing with our own. When you see this in clients, what do you do? How do you help what comes out of your mouth in these moments when you're noticing that they're rejecting someone else's authenticity because of how it reflects on them.

Speaker 2:

Mm, hmm. So I've actually been thinking about this and I get a lot of pushback on the shoulds and, just like everything, there are exceptions. Okay, this is not black and white. We're literally talking about this not being a black and white situation.

Speaker 2:

Often, should can be replaced with need and want, the words need and the word want. And I think when we remove the should, it helps us get a little more clear on do we need this thing or do we want this thing? So to answer your question about clients, I will usually I just call it out like oh, there's a should. All my clients know that I have an ear for that and we'll stop it and we'll catch it. And so usually I say something to the fact of says who. Who is saying that you should, or who is saying who says who? Even just that question, usually, with a little bit of digging, we hear it's somebody else's voice in here. This is mom's voice, this is dad's voice, this is grandpa's voice, somebody else's voice here, or that, our own voice.

Speaker 2:

That is just in our own denial. Like we talked about the projecting piece, just the exploration of says who, whether they're talking about themselves or someone else, gets us into a place of curiosity and I think that's a big piece of the shoulds is the ability to be curious can be very uncomfortable. It kind of aligns itself with, you know, cognitive dissonance it's like. But if I just say that it should be this way, then I don't have to critically think about it and I just get to do it and ignore and everything feels great. And there's a deeper level here and usually if we're operating that way, we see the projection on others a lot more often If we're in our own denial about a lot of things.

Speaker 2:

So just the simple question of if you find yourself shitting on someone else, or even shitting on yourself, just asking says who? Who tells me that this should be this way? And if we get curious about that and we change the should to need or want, we can get there a lot quicker. We can get to the basis of do I need to do this? Do I want to do this? Those two questions really help us in more of a compassionate way. Come to the answer instead of the rigidity of I should, but I don't want to, and so that must mean something negative about me, and that's where we see the shame come in as well.

Speaker 1:

Very things came up. One thing I find really interesting that we both do with our clients when it comes to shoulds is challenge and question says who. I don't know whoever the first person was to decided. This is like a thing Thank you, Because I use it almost every day when I hear clients well, this is how it needs to be. And like says who and the way I personally help my clients identify between a need, a want and a should is from. From my perspective, shoulds are primarily coming from societies and external voice. That's not the client's own individual voice in their own head.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

And so when I ask them is it something you should, or do you need or want this? And they will push back and say what's the difference? I'm like, well, one is literally for somebody else and the other is for you, because shoulds are for others and these wants are for ourselves. So are you doing this for someone or for you? Which still creates a little bit of confusion. But the point for me in doing that is to get them to look at it and evaluate it, because a lot of people don't, and there's a lack of boundaries between themselves and their environment and they often struggle to distinguish a should, between a need and a want.

Speaker 1:

And you just have to kind of sit with it and see how your body reacts to it, see what kind of thoughts or questions come up, because a lot of the times, he shoulds or other people's voices in our head that we think are belong to us, but they don't, so you don't actually have to listen to it, and so if it's something you need to do, then your own voice will tell you that, your own body will say that. But if you don't need it and don't want it, you're running the risk of going through with a should that really probably has nothing to do with you as an individual and won't really feel fulfilling or satisfying or had any kind of return on your investment of time and energy or just general give a fuckery, as I like to put it, and I love that you also have question. Says who, because that's the first thing I say to all my clients. Says who from from your purpose, from your perspective, what is the purpose of focusing on the shoulds?

Speaker 2:

The purpose. Why do we, why do we focus on them? Often they give us a sense of direction. Again, we're talking about people who are older than us, who may be done things that we're trying to do. They give us a sense of direction, maybe even motivation.

Speaker 2:

I think about things like you should go to college, you should have a family, you should buy a house, all of these like societal pieces. It gives us motivation to these like life, like milestones, and I think sometimes I think on a surface level because it gives us some sense of like normalcy, right, like I'm doing all the things that I should be doing, that everybody else around me is doing. So if we have a sense of like normalcy and we're not having to sit with like disappointment or being curious about ourselves can be really uncomfortable, and so if I don't have to be curious about what I need to do and I can just check off these boxes that the people that I trust and care about are telling me to do, then this will be fine. So I think it gives us a sense of normalcy. Again, I'm coming back to the holidays, when we show up in all of these systems that we're not in constantly and people are asking all of the milestone questions. If we're able to say yes, yes, yes, yes, then it really does fulfill the sense of like I'm on the right track, I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, I belong. I think it gives us a sense of the belonging. And then we look at those. There's tons of information out there about how to have boundaries during the holidays and how it's okay to not have these milestones, and how do we shut down conversations If we aren't doing the things that we should be doing? That's really difficult, and so we can imagine, you know, being bombarded with questions about have you met all these life stages yet and you've decided to not go that route can be really intimidating.

Speaker 2:

It takes a lot of courage and bravery to have hard conversations like that with people who care about us and like what's best for us, just realizing that it's their definition of what is best for us. And it brings me back to the idea of like. Are we in relationships that encourage us to be curious and have permissions to do things the way that we think is best? Do we have relationships where people say I love you and I trust that you know what's best for you, and even saying that out loud. Something I say often to clients is like I trust that you are going to make the decision that is best for you, and sometimes that's what we need is somebody to just believe that we know what's best for us.

Speaker 2:

If we're brought up in systems where the adults in our lives know what's best for us, not us so I always and I'm just this kind of therapist, I'm this kind of person I'm always going to go back to our childhood and how we were molded, how we were encouraged to fail, make mistakes, learn from those and not be a shameful thing. And again we're talking about the curiosity of having to sit with. Was I brought up in a space that encouraged me to be vulnerable and trust myself? Often in my experience, that's not always the case. There's a lot of, there's a lot of shits that come out of those systems, out of care also.

Speaker 1:

As you're talking. What struck me shoulds to me is a function of extremes, what I've noticed in a lot of my clients. They operate on extremes because it's technically easier. Because, if you're on one end of an extreme spectrum or another, then you don't really have to navigate.

Speaker 1:

This is just the definition this is. It's pre written for me. There's your script to this. I'm just going to follow the script because this is what I should do and then everything will be good. Oftentimes that extreme black or white thinking is detrimental to a person's mental health because it's not congruent with who they are and they're unfulfilled anyway. But they keep engaging in it and so shoulds to me is another form of operating on extremes and avoiding navigating who you are as an individual and how you fit into the grand scheme of things. What are your thoughts? What's coming up for you?

Speaker 2:

Man, I am feeling this sense of like not existential crisis. I don't think it's that big, but this like, oh no, who am I? Then I have to figure this out. It can be very uncomfortable, it can often not feel safe if we're trying to take a journey that feels best for us. That is against everything that the people who care about us and love us are telling us to do. Having to not only have the courage and the bravery to figure it out for ourselves, but then to advocate for ourselves in the face of these other people. That is quite the challenge.

Speaker 2:

And you know, with my clients, this is, this is kind of the in the same light of the rigidity of the shoulds is like this idea of no better, do better. And I rebuke that constantly because it is not that black and white, it's OK, I'm going to learn, I'm going to know, and then I have to practice those new things in order to get to the do better. I hear so many, so many shoulds from clients that say well, I know that I shouldn't do this, or I know that I should do this, so why am I not doing it? Or why am I? Why am I doing it?

Speaker 2:

And there's so much shame in that little space in between, when we know that something is better for us or not good for us, and then we're doing blatantly the opposite because we're still getting something from doing it, whether that's a sense of normalcy or a sense of belonging, or we get to avoid shame. There's this hole in the middle of that. And, to your point, if we have to sit and be curious and do self exploration without skills, there in that hole, that can be very scary. Without, like, the safety of a therapist or true safety in our close relationships, that can be a really scary space to be in.

Speaker 1:

Could you argue that going along with the shoulds is another way to deflect from oneself?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely yes, yes. Again, it brings me back to the normalcy pieces, that not having to be curious, and I will say too, I don't know that we are encouraged to even think about it that deeply. It's just like these are the life milestones that you need to complete in order to be successful and happy, and so we already have a roadmap. So I absolutely see where people myself included, it's hearing like you included right, we've just done these things that people tell us we should do, and sometimes that works. If we do those things and it actually ends up aligning with us and it feels good for us, then great, and there will still be that I told you. So I told you that would work out for you. But I think it's absolutely easier.

Speaker 2:

And if we're not encouraged to explore, then I usually see the fear of exploration a lot later in life. We're talking like 40s, 50s, 60s of people saying, oh my gosh, I don't want to do any of this that I've been doing. And those are the clients that come in and say help me, I've done all the things. I have the job in the car and the kids and the family and all the things, and I'm really unfulfilled and so I think deflecting from oneself. We might know that, we might not know that, we might just be. You know, if we don't have spaces to critically think, or aren't encouraged to critically think and tolerate the uncomfortableness that comes with that, then sure we'll just coast on the surface for as long as we can. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Beautiful. Yeah. How do people fight off the shoulds?

Speaker 2:

It's so challenging Just existing and having all the voices. I mean I even think about what we see, what we're exposed to I mean all of us are on social media Even what we're exposed to. Lots of my clients feel shame about their lives because of what they see other people doing. The shoulds are. It's hard to get away from them. I come back to need and want, and when we are comparing what we should do or what we shouldn't do this is another direction that I'll often take is when you're looking at this person and you're saying I should be doing what they're doing, I ask what feeling do you think they're having? And it's like, oh they're. You know they're having so much joy and so much, you know, freedom. Okay, how can we get the feeling? Because it sounds like the feeling is what you're chasing after, not literally what they're doing, and I think that's where we get.

Speaker 2:

Where it gets really convoluted is because it's. If I do all of these tangible things, then I will feel a certain way and I mean, here we are. We're very clearly that's not always the case so challenging ourselves and really actually critically thinking about when we're shooting on ourselves or we're shooting on other people. Where is that coming from? What is it actually? The shoulds feel very surface level because they're very easy to say, okay, that's what I'll do, or they're very easy to ignore and rebel against and like, fuck that, I'm not doing that, I'm going to go do this, just as like a almost like an ego type thing. When we really get curious about it and contemplative about it and, I would argue, having a safe person to bounce those things off of a therapist, a friend then it's not so easy because then we're faced with actually how we feel and how we, how we think about things or how we believe in things. So it's not easy. I will say that for sure, for sure.

Speaker 2:

Coming back to the needs and the wants, I came across an example of a gal online on social media. Here we are of this, this concept, right, so it's like a beautiful day outside and she's in her living room reading a book and she has this thought of you know, I should be outside reading, it's a beautiful day, and the whole post was about her saying but where says who? Who says I need to be outside just because it's a beautiful day? So she goes through this process of do I need to be outside. No, do I want to be outside Not really.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so that was her answer. It's like I don't know where the should is coming from. But when I come back down to myself and say, do I really need this or do I really want this, and the answer is no, we can practice being uncomfortable with rebuking the idea of the shoulds, because we don't even. Often the scout didn't even know where it was coming from, just was there just because it's a nice day outside and I can even saying that out loud, I can think that to myself often. I'm like I should be outside. It's a really nice day, but why, says who? Where does that come from? So the challenging ourselves, it's difficult. It's difficult to do when we start aligning with ourselves and being centered in self over the easy thing to do, which is kind of go with the flow and people, please do what other people want us to do.

Speaker 1:

If the opposite of engaging the shoulds is sitting with oneself? How do you have your clients practice this? What? What happens in between sessions or during sessions to help them be more centered on self?

Speaker 2:

I Think there's some prerequisite work there, because often People are not comfortable sitting with themselves in any regard, so let alone having to be curious about the life choices that they've made and are going to make. It brings it about much discomfort. And so I think there's some psycho education stuff of like what is it even like to just notice your body? A lot of my clients and I see just a lot of people are operating from the neck up. Everything is cognitive and it's amazing how sometimes when I ask people to just notice their body, it's like it's foreign to them. Even asking people to just notice their breath you know, I'll lead mindfulness classes and just having people sit with their breath can be such an aha moment for people to say, wow, I was so present with myself. And so the psycho education piece and the practice of what I would call maybe distressed tolerance is like. This is distressing to me, this is uncomfortable for me, and how can I help myself? Learn to tolerate it more, learn that I am a safe person for myself, all I think that work has to be done first before we can get into the practicing of the the shoulds, because the shoulds are usually pretty big.

Speaker 2:

They can be really big, big life changes or challenges. So the first thing I would have clients do is we're just going to practice awareness. We're not going to do anything, we're not going to change anything, we're just going to be aware of how many times do you notice that you said should last week? That's your homework. Let's just be aware of how often you say they should slow down when they're driving or they should really have a jacket on that chop, get all the things all the shoulds. Let's just notice first. I think again I'm coming back to you being curious, and being curious allows us to explore a little bit deeper. It also allows us to have, like, compassion and empathy more for other people as well as ourselves. I think those things kind of work in tandem. When we can Slow down and give compassion to ourselves, it will. We will naturally be able to extend it, and Sometimes it works the opposite. Vice versa. People need to practice Compassion and empathy with others and then they're able to give it to themselves. First step is awareness 100%.

Speaker 1:

I completely agree. Since we do similar work, what, what I do, some of my clients kind of depending on their personality and where they are in this self-awareness piece, I have them fill out basically a character sheet. I got this idea. My wife Everyone so I will dabble in in writing Fantasy novels. She she loves read, reads a lot, and she had this idea of writing a novel and she wanted to rope me in For the character development. Because I'm a therapist.

Speaker 1:

I know people, I know what makes people feel strong, what makes them feel weak, the people or how people are consistent, yet also inconsistent, all little details of our humanity. And when I was filling out character sheets with her which is something people can just Google character sheet for for fiction writing it was very detailed and I really appreciated you know all the little Quirks that you can make this person feel real and believable. And and by the end of it and her writing, it felt like a real human. It didn't seem like a character we made up, it seemed like an actual person and it got me thinking. I have plenty of clients that just don't know who. They are late and sitting with themselves feels too vulnerable, like it gets overwhelming, they get uncomfortable. So I often tell my clients when we study and animals out in nature, it's very objective. We don't really give a shit what they're up to. It's more like we're just recording information.

Speaker 1:

How often they engage in this behavior where they did it and that's it. We reframe work, how this thing functions, based off a lot of objectivity and data collection. So I started having clients do that same thing. I'm like, take a character sheet, go to a coffee shop by yourself and just fill it out. Nothing's good or bad, it's just like who the fuck are you when you're just out there in the wild doing your own thing? Like what would you objectively write for yourself? And so, my surprise, plenty of my clients loved it because it gave them enough distance that it didn't seem so overwhelming, so vulnerable, so emotional. But they were engaged enough that they started noticing patterns about themselves, even on an emotional level.

Speaker 1:

I had a couple clients come in be like anytime I go to a coffee shop, I'm fucking sad. I'm like whoa, okay, how come if you're observing you as an animal out in the wild? What? What about? This environment brought up sadness? They're like well, cuz I'm fucking there by myself. That's why I don't have close friends or family, because I just keep everyone with this closest. A 10-foot pole will let them get close to me so that's probably why I'm depressed.

Speaker 1:

I'm like good fucking job, that was really deep of you, because I knew that the day you came in. But I can't just say that out loud this early, because you'll just, you know, overwhelm your nervous system.

Speaker 1:

You'll, you'll just you'll end up worse for me saying that, but you need to get here at some point. So this self discovery is self curiosity you've talked on. It's incredibly powerful. I don't think people fully acknowledge that in order to avoid the shoulds and to be more fulfilled, you kind of have to fill out that character sheet and and find out like who you are in your own head, in isolation, because You're getting constant shoulds from your environment all the time. It's never ending. It even means the therapist. When, now that I've better established who I am as a therapist, when I meet new people Every once in a while, they'll give me all. You should do it this way, I'm like. Or you could just keep that to your fucking self. I'm gonna ignore you and well, we'll just move on with this conversation because I'm gonna do what I need, want to do, even if it doesn't work. As long as I'm happy with it, then I'm fine. I'm building a wealth of joy, not shoulds.

Speaker 2:

I can easily collect those in billions and still feel broke anyway and if you did not have a sense of self, you would do what they're telling you to do correct 100%.

Speaker 1:

I Continue to fill out my own character sheet and there's still new things I'm learning. But if the more I fill it out, the easier it is for me to hear the shoulds and ignore it like it didn't happen, which is when people say this is how it should be done, I am just like, okay, I just keep going. So I'm gonna do what I need to do and want to do for myself and I'll be happy regardless if it works or doesn't, because I know this is a decision for me, by me alone.

Speaker 2:

Yep, and I can tell, like hearing kind of your hypothetical reaction, that there's a lot of like self-work and there's a lot of self-acceptance.

Speaker 2:

So I want to speak to that in terms of the people pleasing Frame, because when somebody says, well, you know, you should just do it this way it's.

Speaker 2:

It's Hard for people to believe who have done the work. That somebody might say, oh gosh, okay, and they get submissive because they're not, because they're unsure about themselves. And so when we hear those shoulds from the outside, if we don't have a sense of curiosity or a sense of who we are, it will Clean to us. So then we're just like kind of overwhelmed with all of the shoulds of the other people. And so for people for my people pleasing clients I would say something, or I would encourage them to say something like Think about this person probably means well. So how can we say, hey, you know, I haven't thought about that. I appreciate that, I'll consider it, and maybe you don't, and maybe you don't consider it and you think it's a terrible idea, but the people pleasing peace, and I think it's.

Speaker 2:

There's an extreme on the other end, right Of like, well, fuck you, I'm going to do what I want. You know, helping people kind of live here like okay, cool, yep, actually I've tried that and that actually didn't work for me, but thanks, anyway, this like people usually mean well and are trying to help us. And it just brings me back to like most of my clients are in this like how do I stand up for myself? How do I tell people no, even no, thank you is difficult. Like I've got clients on the phone with scammer callers because they feel bad if they hang up on them, right, like I should just hear them out. And so you know, hearing you say that again I can hear the work that you've done.

Speaker 2:

And then I think about like the majority of my clients are, like I could never say that and that's not the goal. The goal is for you not to be able to say fuck you, I'm going to do what I want, don't ever shit on me again. It's. It is this like little gray area of I can consider what other people think is best for me and I'm going to take that back and go be contemplative about it and be curious about it. When I bring my whatever, I bring my own self into the equation as well, and I love the character sheet. Like you said earlier, I'm probably going to steal that. It's a great way to be objective about yourself instead of you just pull yourself away a little bit instead of everything being so close and overwhelming. I really like that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, take it, run with it. I've been recently thinking I should probably well see there, I should myself. I caught it. I caught it. I'm thinking it might be beneficial for some of my clients if I actually made a character sheet from a therapeutic perspective. I also know, sitting there and doing that I'm a perfectionist, I'm going to stress out. And I need to be in the right headspace to engage in such worksheet work from scratch. Sure, I'm not going to do it because I should.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to wait until I don't feel like I should, and then do it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and even in that they're like when we, when we remove the should and we say I need to like, do you need to do that, maybe not, it sounds like you want to like to do this someday. When we put the should on it Immediately, if we aren't ready to do it, there's shame. I should be doing this, I'm saying that I should do it, so why am I not doing it there? That just leaves a hole for shame versus. You know, I would like to do this and I don't know when I'm going to get to it, but it is something that I think I would like to do and it gets to just live there without weight, without pressure, because we're allowed to change our minds. Also, we might today want to do that and in a year decide actually no, I don't want to do that anymore. If we put the should in there, it's going to make it very rigid and very inflexible.

Speaker 2:

When we remove that and give ourselves the permission to decide if we need to or if we want to, it is coming back to ourselves. You know I was thinking about there's just so many that come up when I think about just our day to day life and a couple of girlfriends of mine. We were talking about drinking water. Oh, we need to be hydrating and it's.

Speaker 2:

There's so much should, right, it's like I should drink more water, I should be drinking more water, and that is not making anybody drink more water, it's just shaming us at the end of the day when we haven't drank all the water we should be drinking. We just feel shame about it Versus. You know, I could really. I really need to drink more water that's going to make me feel better, or really want to drink more water that's going to help me feel better and I'm going to be hydrated and I'm going to be able to do these other things that I want to do. It makes it so much more compassionate where if at the end of the day, we're like dang, I didn't drink as much water as I needed to, but that's okay, I'll try again tomorrow. It makes it so much more compassionate. Instead of the should leaves the scaping hole that we just feel in with shame or the other people feel in with shame for us.

Speaker 1:

So I love that. Yeah, I'm more than happy being my vulnerable sense of stuff. Fuck it, whatever Right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but that's also the work this is not about. The goal here is not to not ever should on ourselves or not ever should on other people. It's a part of our language. There are exceptions I don't think the exceptions like we think that there are but it's not about getting it perfect. It's about like, really, I think it's about having compassion for ourselves and having the vulnerability to decide what is best for us, to ourselves and in the face of other people. That brings me back to Brene Brown's work, because all of her work is about this vulnerability and bravery in advocating for yourself. So yeah, the shoulds are complicated and we're not supposed to get it perfect. It's just a matter of if we catch it, if we hear it being able to catch it, like you didn't say wait, wait, wait. Let me rebuke that for a second. Let me, let me feel in need or want here and see, usually, if we have had the practice of sitting with ourselves, it will feel better to explore it 100%.

Speaker 1:

How does someone find out if they're focusing on the shoulds instead of their needs and wants? What are the signs and symptoms? I often see this during sessions and I can kind of gauge it how my clients describe their lives. But I've always personally professionally struggled helping people identify that when I'm not around, because it's easy for me to hear it in the middle of a session and point it out and talk about it. But I rarely had any kind of tools to help any of my clients find that for themselves when I'm not around, because I'm only serving them so far if there's nothing else to give them. So what do you do? How do you help clients discover the signs and symptoms that they're focusing on the shoulds and said their needs and wants, so that way they can pick up on it even when they don't talk to you?

Speaker 2:

So this brings me back to the awareness piece of asking folks to just be aware of. How often is it even showing up? It usually presents itself very concretely. It presents itself in our cognition as have to, and people really don't like it when we challenge this because they're like, but I have to, and I'm like, but do you, we can almost always input a should there, like I should be doing this, not a have to. So even the awareness of have to's I think catching those is really helpful.

Speaker 2:

Things like burnout, like I have to attend all these meetings at work. That's being put on my schedule. I have to, I have to, I have to. Often it's our environments that make us feel like we have to. And again we're talking back to the sense of self I'm just going to do what they tell me I do because that's what I should be doing. So feelings of burnout my schedule is so busy, I have no time for stillness.

Speaker 2:

Lots of shame Again we're talking about shame being a negative belief about ourselves. So I should attend all these meetings or I don't have great work ethic, or I don't care about my job. I hear that often like, well then, I don't care about x thing. Feelings of resentment. I did these things for these people and they're not doing them for me now and so often when we reflect back on that it was a should. Well, I should go help them move. They're my friends, but now they're not helping me and I feel resentful about that because they should help me and we're. There's often a tip for tat, so if you find yourself kind of keeping score, that's often a sign of shoulding on ourselves or others.

Speaker 2:

Again, we talked about this of like projecting on other people, judging other people for just being themselves, an overall sense of unhappiness or a lack of fulfillment, because all those spaces where we could be giving back to ourselves is filled in with all of the shoulds, the inability to be still. You know, I offer a 30 minute mindfulness class every Wednesday and it's it's. It's not crazy, I do know, like people's inability to just be still. What am I supposed to do? Just sit here Like I have things to do. I should be doing the laundry, I should be getting the kids, whatever.

Speaker 2:

There's so many shoulds and sometimes those are needs and when we get curious about that we can figure it out, but initially it comes out as should the people pleasing and some of the cognitive dissonance stuff as well, like well, I know that I shouldn't be doing this, but it's just easier to believe that this is the best thing, so I'm just going to do that. So those are the awareness of kind of the language that we speak to ourselves, and then these very tangible things that I've listed are good ways to say am I living out of shoulds? Am I living out of what also might feel like obligations to other people? Often not so much or not as much as we think.

Speaker 1:

Anyway, you brought up a couple of good ones. Literally on the way in for me, driving from the office to record with you, my wife was telling me about how she has 10 hours of meetings every week on top of other things her employers are pushing on to her, and I was just thinking you know, 40 hour work week, you're spending 25% of your entire time in fucking meetings talking about getting work done, not getting work done.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

And it was. She has always told me. You know, these meetings have to be done, and I'm just like man. Why, though, you're meeting with your colleagues and subordinates about work? Talk about work instead of doing the work. And it's so interesting that you that's one of the things you brought up was you have to go to all these meetings and it's from your environment.

Speaker 1:

I'm thinking who's telling her she has to her boss? I don't think she actually wants to, but she does it, but I don't think she feels like it's necessary. It's just something she has to do because her employer and her superiors have told her she needs 10 hours of meetings a week on top of the rest of her her life schedule at work. So so fascinating. You brought that up, and I have one particular client who always has a packed schedule. He's self employed and not. That tells me like he needs to do all this stuff, and I've challenged it and questioned it and you know we're still working on that, but he also is just like these are all the things I have to do.

Speaker 1:

I've always challenged how come, though, says who, what would happen if you just didn't do some of this shit? Like maybe you wouldn't really make that much of a difference? But it's, it's the stuff that we feel we should do and in place of doing the shoulds, our needs go unmet, and that's why we're we become miserable. Earlier, you would mention honoring yourself through your needs. What does that even look like?

Speaker 2:

So, as we've been talking, you know, like I said earlier, I'm flooded with, like all of these examples, and the reason I said that example is because I have multiple people on my live telling me how many work meetings are unnecessary, that they have to be at right, and I've seen an increase of that since the hybrid work life. Honoring yourself again. It is uncomfortable when we ask ourselves what do we need? Often it is going to be tethered to disappointing someone else and if we've grown up in systems where that means something bad about us, well, we're going to avoid that at all costs. And then we're. I like this phrase and I use this often with clients is that we're choosing someone else's piece over our piece. And if you've operated that way, it's really easy to be like I'll be fine, it's okay, I'll get over it.

Speaker 2:

Eventually there's something that shows up feelings of obligation, feelings of resentment, so to have to come back again. I come from this very compassionate place that says I know you'd like for me to be there at your birthday party and I'm feeling I just can't make it, and I hope you can understand this person is allowed to be disappointed. Their feelings might be hurt, and I think the word there is. That's okay. In healthy relationships, in mature, emotionally mature relationships, adults can hold disappointment and be sad and say, gosh, I really hate that you're not going to be able to come. I'm so disappointed, maybe my feelings are hurt and I get it. You're sick, I'm. I think about healthy relationships would say I want you to take care of yourself. Yes, please take care of yourself. I'll catch you next time. That we can be disappointed and also make room for other people's experiences at the same time, but it is the practice. It is going to be.

Speaker 2:

We know when you say no to this person that you've always said yes to. There might be some pushback in that and so there is a process of change. When we are learning to be centered and self, it's going to be uncomfortable and people are not going to know what to do. We've engaged, we've made the relational dynamics the way that they are, by operating out of the shoulds or operating out of the obligation, because we think that means something good about us. So when we start to challenge that and say, what do I need the expectation that it's, it might be difficult for other people to understand why we need that when we've always done it a certain way, and so that's the work that I do with clients is.

Speaker 2:

You know this is a process. You know we're going to practice and we're going to practice the way you're going to say this. We're going to practice the distress you're going to feel and then next week, after you've done it, after you've told the person the thing, we'll come in and talk about what that feels like for you and how uncomfortable that might be and how does it feel that they might be upset with you and what can we do about the relationship? It's not comfortable to put ourselves first in a centered and self kind of way Usually not.

Speaker 1:

I think as a good transition. You would mention a lot of the work you do in your, in your practice and throughout your career has been helping people navigate their shoulds, needs and wants In general. How does therapy help with this? Because this is this entire concept. This entire discussion is kind of nebulous. It's conceptual, it's intangible, yet it's felt and experienced and this is where I think a lot of clinicians like us lose that connection between us and the general public is. You know, we operate in terms of diagnoses and more concrete things. Not every reason to go to therapy has to be a strict clinical diagnosis, like bipolar or major depressive disorder or miscellaneous other stuff that goes on. That we diagnosis dictionary alphabet soup of issues. A lot of the work we do is in these kind of ill defined, intangible things that make people unhappy and miserable, but they can experience it. So how does therapy help with the shoulds?

Speaker 1:

Let's make that the diagnosis, a should, the shoulds that's. That's the new term.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, wow, I mean, therapy allows us this space to figure it out. It allows us to be able to explore it and figure it out All of it. Why do I feel this way? I mean, I, predominantly, am going to come at everything from a curiosity lens. I'm going to ask why a lot, because I think asking why helps us. It's uncomfortable If we've just like I don't need to ask why this is just the way that it is or how it should be. So in the therapy space, being challenged is not a negative thing, it's not a bad thing. It helps us.

Speaker 2:

Often I see people struggling with their values and I think that closely aligns to needs. So when I ask people, what are your values, it's usually pretty, the generic top things right, healthy, family, you know happiness. But when I hand you a value sheet of over 35 different values, we're like what care about all these things? Well, of course you do, but if we could narrow those down? This is kind of coming from acceptance, commitment therapy at Lens. It's like if we can narrow this down to like your top three values, even the experience of people moving through having to mark out some of these things that they think are valuable to them. It's deeply uncomfortable to have people mark out the word family Because, yes, it's important, but they're a single person in their 30s and their extended family is all over and they don't have that immediate system. So the therapy offering a place to explore what is actually important to me, what is actually important for me in the life that I'm wanting to create, in the life that I'm wanting to live so a place to reflect and get clear on our values, discovering what do we need and not just what we need. In my work I'm gonna help you figure out how do we get that. Also, it's not just knowing, it's the process of knowing and then doing so what are my needs and then how do I make that happen and what are my values and how do I start living by that. I love my position of being able to challenge people, because it's not like in natural character for me, but to be able to have people come in and say help me figure this out and get to push those buttons and do that challenging work of helping you discover who you are without the outside voices.

Speaker 2:

So then I think about the therapy space as a very safe, protected, private space for honesty and vulnerability to grow. It's usually pretty uncomfortable at first, or it can be if we're nervous to it or if there's shame or shoulds around even going to therapy. I really love working with men and a lot of the stigmas that I hear is like you shouldn't need to go talk about that. You should be able to just deal with it, and it's not just men that get that criticism. You should be able to figure it out or you should whatever. So when we think about the therapy space being a space literally tailored for you to say all the things unfiltered, it's one of my favorite things is to ask clients, just unfiltered, what would this sound like? And it's awesome to hear them just be able to say the thing like I don't wanna fucking do this. I'm like okay, so how do we help you not do this thing that you very much feel obligated to do? So the safety of the therapy space and having the therapist on your side whether that's encouraging you to do the things or challenging your beliefs about why you're doing the things To me, that also is a good balance of a healthy relationship People that are gonna show up for you and validate you and also challenge you in times of like needing to be challenged.

Speaker 2:

So being able to model that type of relationship for my clients and also modeling what boundaries look like. I do a lot of work with boundaries and in the therapeutic relationship it's still a relationship, so there are still boundaries. And inside our relationship, inside the therapy space, we get to actually talk about that and figure it out instead of just being reactive like we would in our outside relationships. So it really kind of is a very safe place for people to even grow in their discomforts and then we talk about.

Speaker 2:

I mean, the shoulds always come up. The shoulds are always there. Of course they are. Like I said earlier, it's not about not having them, it's just about challenging them and realigning for ourselves. So I think a therapist can be super helpful, but they don't have an agenda for your life. They're helping you figure it out. And so people who've always kind of operated on what they should be doing it might be a really different, uncomfortable experience for them for someone to give them the reins. So what would you like to do? Oftentimes they don't know and I think the therapy space provides a space to figure it out for themselves.

Speaker 1:

I have the exact same mentality towards all of that. It's so interesting. The more I get to know you, the more similar so many parallels that we have.

Speaker 1:

I encourage my clients to be unfiltered and I do ask those questions like what do you need, what do you want. I know most of the time they're just gonna lock up in front of me and be like, oh fuck, I have no idea how I should answer this and I'm like, well, it's not about what you should or should not answer. It's like what do you need, what do you want? You don't seem like you asked that question for yourself, so then I'll ask it on your behalf and coach you and encourage you to not always need me to do that. Try to do this on your own and find an answer, and if there isn't one, that's also completely okay. Sometimes there isn't an answer and you don't always need to have one. It's just about engaging in that self-compassion piece. If someone's doing this type of work, or they want to do this type of work, it's focusing on the shoulds. What are the signs that they're improving? How do we know any of this is working?

Speaker 2:

It's at first it usually doesn't feel good. That's why we have this preparation of like. When we start changing, we can imagine that our relationships might feel different because we are including ourselves in the equation of the relationship. So I think at first, when we experience advocating for ourselves, we're going to, we can expect discomfort or challenge in the relationship. So I think that's a good sign. That's not a bad sign. We can expect that. So we know if you are feeling nervous about a conversation because you're gonna advocate for yourself or we're dealing with the repercussions of you advocating for yourself, that's not a bad thing.

Speaker 2:

I review kind of the good and bad language, but often that's what that's. The language people are using with me is like I feel bad about this. So we can acknowledge that the discomfort of change doesn't have to be a bad thing. That leads me on a sidebar about uncomfortability, and something I'll often talk about is like I don't know. I think I made this up somewhere along the way.

Speaker 2:

There's two different types of uncomfortability. One is uncomfortability because this is to my detriment. I'm in a situation and I'm feeling uncomfortable because this environment or the situation is detrimental to me. So we can think about situations where that is the case. And then we have, ooh, I'm uncomfortable because I'm in a position that's asking me to grow or to do something different, in the feeling of uncomfortable from that. So again, we're talking about being able to sit with yourself is am I uncomfortable because this is not a good situation for me? I'm uncomfortable because I'm doing something I haven't done before. That's a good sign and that's an uncomfortability that we can learn to tolerate and take as a good sign.

Speaker 2:

So, knowing that our relationships might shift, we also, I think, over time and over the practice, we're gonna feel the things that we thought we were gonna feel when we lived by the should. It's gonna be relief, it's gonna be letting go of, often, guilt. I hear a lot of people explain like I feel so guilty when I do something for myself because it's tied to that idea that it's selfish. So the work of that eventually, I think the hope is like I might feel disappointed or I might not feel great about this, but I know, like my higher self says, this is the best thing for me, and I say this all the time. All my clients can know, like they know, when I'm gonna say this is, if you're doing what's best for you, then it has to be what is best for others. It has to be. It may not feel that way, but if you are doing what is truly best for you, then it has to be what's best for others. Maybe it's putting them in a position to be uncomfortable in growth because they're feeling disappointed, or whatever.

Speaker 2:

Relationship dynamics may start changing. You may start feeling uncomfortable in the idea of the growth and actually having to initiate the change, of speaking for yourself and advocating for yourself, even if people don't understand. I think that seems to be. The hardest is when people aren't like oh great, yeah, I love that you've changed that.

Speaker 2:

Usually there's some pushback in what we think we want for ourselves, because people have an idea of what they think our lives should look like Usually and hopefully, a sense of self-acceptance and peace about the decisions you've made. Being able to hold this is what's best for me I know that this is what's best for me because I've done the work to figure it out and other people may not believe that and being able, I think a sign of growth in that is being able to hold that. Both of those things are true, and again we're talking about the gray area of compassion, not just I should be doing one or the other of these things, it's maybe, it's both, maybe I can hold both of these, which in turn, I think, helps us to have a better sense of fulfillment and self-acceptance in who we are bravery, vulnerability, courageousness and we will see that in our relationships. It does take time and it can be uncomfortable, but with the persistence of doing this for our future selves, we'll start to see those things flourish in our interpersonal relationships.

Speaker 1:

I am in complete agreement. One of the things I talk with my clients often about is when they take care of themselves. There's a healthier, happier version of them that shows up everywhere else in their environment, and so sometimes putting yourself first is what's needed, wanted, but also the best interest of people you do care about.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

And so the best thing about this unhappy, miserable version of you is the best version of you they have an experience with, and if you're not happy with how you show up, then there's options, there's things we can do so that way they get a healthier relationship out of you, for you having a healthy relationship with yourself.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes. And that extends to the empathy when we're talking about those interpersonal relationships that are really important to us. And if we're just going to face to honor ourselves, then it allows the other people, that the person on the other end of that relationship, to say, well, they're taking care of themselves and I'm not upset about it, so maybe I can bail on the next thing and like that, be okay, because it can be okay. If we're saying I really should go do this thing, it's gonna come back to us in resentment or feelings of obligation somewhere, and that's where that tip for tax system comes in that I see so often and that if I'm showing up as my authentic self, I'm also giving permission for other people to do that. The concept of vulnerability cultivates vulnerability. If I can do it for me, then I am also encouraging the people I'm in relationships to do it for them. That's a beautiful thing.

Speaker 1:

It is Kayla. This has been an absolute blast.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much.

Speaker 1:

Of course, it's been so much fun to talk about this and we have so many parallels in how we operate, and it's so refreshing and it's been so fun to get your perspective on a lot of the same work that I do and to share my experiences with you. If someone who's listening wants to get in touch with you, thinks you're the right person for them, how can we find you? How do they get a hold of you?

Speaker 2:

Sure, so my website is bewellcounselingcocom and all my contact information is there. I have contact forms that people can fill out, even if they have feedback or questions about the episode today. I welcome the continuation of the conversation or curiosities that people have. You can also email me, kayla at bewellcounselingcocom.

Speaker 1:

I'll put all that information into the description of this episode. Kayla, once again, thank you for being here. Thank you for all you've done. This has been so much fun. I look forward to having you back at some point. Do you have any final words for any of the listeners?

Speaker 2:

Sure, check your shoulds and don't shoot on yourself or shoot on others. That's not fun you heard it here.

Speaker 1:

First Don't shoot on yourself or others. For all of you who are here, thank you and I'll catch you next time. Music you.

Navigating Life's Expectations and Shoulds
Navigating Contradictory Shoulds and Rejecting Authenticity
Challenging Shoulds and Finding Individual Voice
Finding Self and Defying Shoulds
Overcoming People-Pleasing and Embracing Self-Acceptance
Therapy for Shoulds, Needs, Wants
Challenging Shoulds, Finding Self-Understanding