Discovering an “I want to do this”attitude: Letting go of the “I need to do this” Mindset

“I want to do this.  It’s not ‘I need to do this’ or ‘I should do this’.  It’s you want to do this.” 

Some of the toughest words to choke down as I listened to someone I trust immensely make me realize I am more valuable and worth more than I gave myself credit for.  I may not be the woman the poets write about or musicians sing about.  I’m not Edgar’s Annabelle Lee or a woman that men start wars over, but I still have value and worth.  It’s easy to lose sight of this. I had focused so much of my journey on my physical health and nutrition that I failed to see I had pushed my emotional well being aside.  Not taking care of your emotions and your heart can be just as detrimental to your health as poor nutrition.  It creates the space for you to develop unhealthy habits in other areas such as your career, lifestyle, or my biggest adversary: my relationships with other people.   

I tend to invest in other people more than they want to invest in me. Search out connection and accountability with the expectation that the other person would be just as committed to that connection as I am.  Allowing someone into your inner circle, giving someone yourself fully when they choose not to express the same will only lead to you crawling further into the rabbit hole of disappointment, frustration, and pain.  It can be hard.  It can hurt like hell. And it continually breaks my heart.  Yet, I stay in the toxicity not because of loyalty (which is what I used to think dictated my choices) but because of fear.  Fear that if I allow that change into my life it won’t be for the better.  So, I cling to the fizzling connection, hoping I can ignite it again.  This isn’t healthy for me, and it isn’t healthy for the other person.

“You want to be healthy.  You want to be happy.  You want to be emotionally available.  It isn’t fair to you. That’s why you want to, not because you need to or should.  It’s you want to.”  Again, my dear, dear friend had a point. I had become fixated on the mindset that I needed to make changes to a friendship or that I should make changes that I was missing the true point. The true motive. I want to so I can be healthy. Unhealthy habits, especially when it comes to people will eventually drag you into a mindset of shame and self-loathing, feeling rejection.  You feel chained and bound to your disgrace instead of feeling freedom: freedom in the change.

I’m discovering that sometimes it isn’t necessarily the person that is toxic for you, it’s the habits you’ve created for yourself involving that person that have become toxic for you. And you have the choice to drown in those habits or change. The conversations. The interactions. The expectations. The desires.  They all become habits, consuming you and eventually tearing you down. But you have control over all of these things.  You have the capability of changing, molding, creating the right type of conversations, the right type of interactions, the right type of expectations, and the right kind of desires in that relationship to benefit your health and your mindset.  And that starts with breaking the unhealthy habits you created them to be. Breaking a habit, especially one that is unhealthy for you, is a lot harder than starting a habit.  But breaking the habit, allowing the relationship to change is allowing you to grow.  Creating healthier habits in your life when it comes to relationships doesn’t mean the relationship will be any less valuable in your life.  In some cases, it might make it more valuable because it’s helping you grow and learn more about yourself. I am learning that going into breaking those unhealthy habits, in whatever area of life, with the mindset of “I want” instead of “I need” or “I should” does several things for your journey. 

“I want” doesn’t set you up for failure. 

Whenever we make goals in our lives it is easy to feel like a failure when we believe it is something we should do or have to do.  I think it stems from other people telling us (especially as children) that we have to do something or we should do something because “it is the right thing to do”.  We listen to all the outside forces telling us what we have to do that it becomes the mindset ingrained in our heads for our own lives, or own perspectives, our own goals.  If we don’t live up to the perfect standard, we feel we failed.  Instead, look at the goal as something you want to do so that when something doesn’t go as planned you allow yourself more grace.  You have the ability to tell yourself to start again.

 “I want” makes boundaries a little less daunting

When I was dog sitting one time, the dog got out through the back fence.  I looked to my left.  Looked to my right.  Every single house in my line of site also had a fence.  It was pointless to go out around the front.  I had to hike myself up over the back of the 6 Ft. fence to go search for this dog.  My point being, I needed to go over the actual boundary of the yard.  I had to.  I needed to. I couldn’t go around, I had to face the fence.  The fence was a barrier for me, something standing in my way instead of something that I could utilize to get to the dog faster. This made me anxious.  It made me stressed.  It made me doubt myself for a moment.  That’s what boundaries can do for us in our lives when we go in with the mindset of “I need to put up this boundary to get healthy” or “I should put up this boundary to keep me from making a poor choice.”  We see them as obstacles to get through, to knock down, instead of seeing them as something we want to establish to help us experience what allows us to thrive. As a result, we tend not to allow the boundary to stay. We see them as something in our way instead of something that can help us.  Whether it is relationships or boundaries with work-life balance or working out or healthy eating, whatever it is you need to put boundaries around, when you truly want to establish the boundary and not just feel like you have to or should because that is what is right, you are more willing to allow that boundary to stay.  You won’t regard the boundary as something standing in your way.

“I want” doesn’t leave room for shame or guilt

I’ve been struggling lately with getting fully back on track with my nutrition after the holidays (partly because I might have been emotionally eating not dealing with my unhealthy habits in a friendship that needed to change.  I’m working on it.)  I kept saying to myself “I need to not eat that because it would be bad for me” or “I should do an extra workout today to make up for that extra 300 calories I ate” And every time, I did the opposite, leaving an immense cloud of guilt and shame hovering over me.  That’s because my mind wasn’t where I wanted it to be.  I felt like getting back on track and upping my workouts were an obligation, a requirement for me to get back to a level I desired to be at.  Looking at this as an obligation is what made me feel guilty when I didn’t accomplish something.  I felt hopeless, frustrated, insignificant because I wasn’t fulfilling what I thought I needed to do.  It’s not that I need to eat better or that I should do an extra workout.  When I feel a relationship is at an unhealthy point and discipline in changing that relationship is crucial, examining it with an “I want” attitude doesn’t leave room for shame or guilt when I take a step back on that boundary I placed. Instead I am reminded why I want to place that change in my life, and I continue to move forward. I want to do those things because it makes me a healthier, happier, fitter person.  When I believe it is something I want, it doesn’t leave room for that shame or guilt to creep in and take over.

“I want” puts you in control.

The mindset of I need or I should hold you captive.  Captive to your past doubts or mistakes, the stories you create in your head, the lies you tell yourself.  The comparisons you make to others on social media.  The mask you wear.  You are chained to your fears or doubts or insecurities, too scared to break away and experience the choice of control.  The choice of a new direction.  The choice of taking care of you.  It is okay to take care of you.  Going into something, whether it is a relationship, career, or personal goal with the mindset that it is something you have to do or should do puts everyone else in control of your journey, making the decisions for you, determining your actions and value for you. Why should something else be in control of your emotions and growth?

 “I want” is you choosing.  You get to choose.  So even when it is challenging or terrifying, changing my mindset to “I want” will only help me experience my best life.  It’s not that I need to thrive.  I want to thrive.