Saturday, January 27, 2007

Stop "Shoulding" Me

Hypochondria is a manifestation of anxiety, and a way to distract ourselves from our real world issues.

My anxiety and real world issues are rooted in low self-esteem, and feelings of inadequacy. A lot of which, I believe, is caused by guilt. Guilt I put on myself by setting unreasonable expectations, and then failing to meet them.

We all carry around a list of “shoulds.” Shoulds being the expectations that we use to brow beat ourselves with. Some of our shoulds are our own; others are placed on us by parents, spouses and society.

Instead of having shoulds, we should have goals. Goals that are important to us, not to our parents, or spouses, or the crazed media-driven society.

These are the shoulds I carry around, and whom they belong to:

I should be graduated from college by now.
– The Beast

I should have boundless energy.
Society/The Beast

I should keep the house and yard spotless.
The Beast

I should be not be so anti-social.
Me/Society

I should have a perfect body.
Society

I should always have the perfect thing to say.
Society

I should not drink so much.
Me

I should not be so stressed.
Me

I should not be so anxious.
Me

I should be liked by everyone.
The Beast/Society

I should exercise more.
Me

I should be perfect at everything.
The Beast

Truthfully, the media and people in our inner-circles do affect all of our shoulds. No one can escape societal pressures, but eliminating the disempowering pressures is a step in the right direction.

So, what if I do have weeds in my yard and I haven’t mopped the floor this week? Does that make me a bad person? Do you like me less since I haven’t graduated from college like others my age? Does it mean I’m inferior? And, so what if I’m ten pounds over weight and say the wrong thing sometimes. I make mistakes, I’m human. And what’s important to this human is leading a healthier life with less stress and anxiety.

I want to enjoy my life, even if others don’t think I’m living it right. So, I’m freeing myself of the shoulds placed on me by others, and turning my shoulds into goals!

6 comments:

Kristen P. said...

Wow, you sound so full of hope! I'm so glad to see it. Keep up the good work.

Mel said...

Hi, I don't suffer from hypochondria, though some days I worry I do! I actually suffer from a specific phobia, emetophobia, the terrible fear of vomitting, etc. It has turned me a bit into someone with OCD on somedays and on others, I feel like a hypo because I'm convinced I'm coming down with a stomach virus. I found your site completely by accident. I'll probably be back someday soon.

Leila V. said...

Hi Mel:
Emetophobia? I like that, it’s very focused! I can see how you’d be terrified of vomiting; it’s horrifying and disempowering.

Sometimes I feel like I have a phobia of heart attacks, I wonder if there’s a name for that.

Ricky said...

leila,

i like this post. after some counseling i realized that I have been a hypochondriac since i was a teenager, but it never effected my life in such a negative way. When it became REALLY bad was a few weeks before I got married.

My wife (then fiance) is very "straight As, do all work first, play later, lets go out all the time" type of person and those expectations, I feel, were put o me more and more...and like you were explaining...i feel these "shoulds" are part of the reason im so bad with hypochondria now.

dont get me wrong, marrying my wife is the best thing thats ever happened to me. I love her more than i love myself. But the expectations placed on me by her and others since i got married are definetly compounding my "situation".

also, you ever heard of "Cyberchondria". If not, you should look it up. I now realize that this "chondria" is also a culprit in my life.

---

Dave,
dave! i had emetophobia! when i went to counseling for hypchondria etc, i found out i also had a fear of vomitting. Between the counseling and the Zoloft, i was able to overcome that fear thank goodness. Have you gone to see someone about it? I know it can REALLY suck. like not eating, not doing things outside the house for fear of throwing up etc. I'll add both you and leila to my prayers! Trust me, i do lot of praying!

Ricky said...

edit to my last comment. i mean to speak to Mel, not Dave. not sure how that happened. im crazy!

Leila V. said...

Ricky:
Never heard of cyberchondria, but after looking it up, I can confidently say I’m a cyberchondriac. I kinda like the way that sounds. I think it would be hard to be a hypochondriac and not simultaneously be a cyberchondriac. All this damn information at our finger tips is getting to our heads!

I think a lot of times, expectations aren’t overtly placed on us, but are more subtly implied; and other times their entirely made up in our heads. We think that if person A likes to go out and we don’t, that means they hate us. At least that’s the way my mind works!