Those insidious "shoulds"

Today was a beautiful, warm (for January) day, and late this afternoon I wanted to take a walk. I was feeling kind of anxious and needy, and wanted to find some peace and clarity.

I hadn't seen my daughter all day, though, and thought I should spend time with her. So I invited her to come with me.

The only problem was, she wasn't interested. She wanted to stay home and do her own thing.

If I had been in a more centered state, perhaps there would be no story to tell. I would have gone on my walk, she would have done her thing, and we probably would have connected again at dinnertime. No problem.

But I was not centered. In fact, I was feeling pretty icky, and when she wasn't interested in coming with me, I took it personally. I told her she had to come, and then spent a good chunk of the walk resenting her and chiding her for being grumpy. Not exactly a fun time.

It wasn't until afterwards that I realized what had gone wrong. I had gotten attached to a certain idea of how the afternoon should go, which didn't allow anyone else's needs to be different than my own. When it turned out my daughter's vision was different, we got into a battle of wills.

The kicker of it all? I honestly hadn't wanted her to come with me in the first place. Did you catch that earlier? I thought I should spend time with her because I'd been gone all day, but what I really wanted was just to take a walk and clear my head. 

In other words, I was fighting for something that neither of us wanted, all in order to live up to a made up image of how I was supposed to be.

Are any of your conflicts like that? Or perhaps a better question: Are any of your conflicts not like that?

So much of our human suffering seems to be created not because we want what we want, but because we try to pursue things we think we should want instead.

May we all find ways to get more clarity.