Evaluating Ourselves When We’ve Been Less Than Perfect
We chastise ourselves in non-constructive ways when we screw up. Shame and guilt are not good ideas. Don’t do things (for yourself or for others) due to shame or guilt. The other party may not receive it as well. Giving should be motivated by a desire to contribute.
Should is a powerful way to create shame and guilt. Do not think in terms of should. Do not think to yourself “I should stop drinking soda.”
Translating Self-Judgments and Inner Demands
Instead of blaming yourself, realize the issue is you are not behaving in harmony to your own needs (just as you should (ha!) think when others act poorly).
Self-judgments, like all judgments, are tragic expressions of unmet needs.
When getting mad at someone, stop and evaluate: “What unmet need of mine is causing this?”
“When I behaved in the way which I now regret, what need of mine was I trying to meet?”
Translating “Have To” to “Choose To”
What do you do in your life that you don’t experience as playful? List everything you tell yourself you have to do.
Insert the words “I choose to…” in front of each item.
For each item, complete the template: “I choose to … because I want … “
With every choice you make, be conscious of what need it serves.
Cultivating Awareness of the Energy Behind Our Actions
As you go through your list of reasons, be aware of:
Money: It is not a need but a means. What is the need?
Approval: This may be a poor reason.
Avoiding Punishment: Think of the positive outcome (if any) - not the negative. As an example, when thinking of why you pay taxes, hopefully part of it is to benefit others. Focus on that instead of whether you will be punished for not paying.
To avoid shame: Not a great motive.
To avoid guilt: Not a great motive.
To satisfy a sense of duty (e.g. “should”, “must”, etc). Again, not a good idea! It also makes it easier to justify our bad behaviors (appeal to authority, appeal to culture, etc).
The most dangerous of all behaviors may consist of doing things “because we’re supposed to”.
Note a commonality in the list above: Extrinsic motivators usually are not good reasons.