I was scrolling through my social media feed the other night and I saw his comment under a picture I posted.
I hadn’t heard from him in at least four or five years. A wave of shock along with a tiny whisper of guilt creeped through my body.
We had dated not long after my divorce. I knew we wanted different things. He shared he had a crush on me for years, but I had only ever viewed him as a friend. Still, he was such a nice guy, I thought, “What the hell,” and soldiered on. Hanging out with him couldn’t hurt.
We went out on a second date, then a third. I know immediately when I feel it with somebody or I don’t. This felt forced. I admit I pushed through my hesitation because I felt pressured by well-meaning friends, “It’s nice to have someone to go out with,” they said. “You have to give people a chance,” they said.
So I listened. Even though I’ve spent half my life engaging in this dance of going against what I know in my heart and body isn’t right for me, like an obedient child I did what I was told. Because maybe, just this one time, I am wrong.
Let me preface this by saying we had a lot of fun together. He checked all of my so-called “boxes”: honest, outgoing, trustworthy, and fun. He was a single parent like myself, so he understood what I was going through. But something felt off.
It wasn’t him. It wasn’t me. It just didn’t feel right for me.
“Clear intuition requires the ability to respect your own impressions. If you need another person to validate your own impressions, you interfere tremendously with your own ability to intuit.” ~ Caroline Myss
Suffice it to say, when I ended things, he was hurt and a little pissed. I had let it go on too long because I didn’t listen to my own intuition. I wish I could tell you I learned my lesson after him, but I didn’t. Every time a “nice guy” came along and I wasn’t feeling it after the first couple dates, I still allowed friends to convince me I was passing judgement too soon and forced myself to go on far longer than I knew I should.
Maybe it was me. Maybe like working out, I should pass through the discomfort in the hopes I’d eventually feel a connection.
No. No. No. No. I’m writing this because we have to learn to start listening to ourselves and our own inner voice—not everyone else’s.
I know when the connection is there and when it isn’t. I know what it feels like in my body when something feels right. I’ve been in enough relationships to know the difference between wanting to spend time with someone versus feeling I should want to spend time with someone.
This felt like a should. We’ve all felt the should. The should sucks. The should makes us do things out of alignment with our souls. The should saps our energy and all joy from our interactions. The should needs to be recognized for what it is.
A red light. Stop.
A should sounds like this, “This person really cares about me. They’re such a nice person. They treat me really well, and I feel like I should give this a chance.”
The should is a no. The should is your indicator that something isn’t a full-bodied yes. The should is your sign to hit the pause button, put on the brakes, and ask yourself the question, “Why do I feel I should move forward with this when I clearly don’t feel it with this person?”
When I work with clients and they ask me what they should do about a particular situation or person, I always turn it back on them. “You know what to do,” I say. “When you ask yourself the question, what is the very first thing that comes to mind without trying to explain why you feel that way?” They always have the answer. We know what is right and what is not for us.
We know when someone isn’t right for us. It’s not about the red flags you may see. It’s not about whether they possess some list of traits you say you’re looking for.
It’s a knowing in the body.
There should never be a feeling of obligation, guilt, or pressure. If you feel any of those things, it’s a no.
This is what a full-bodied yes feels like:
>> Your breathing is even and calm.
>> There is zero hesitation or second thoughts.
>> There is no trying to convince yourself.
>> You’re elated, excited, and lit up at the thought of it.
>> Your body feels centered, balanced, and at peace.
>> You feel in flow. The energy around it feels harmonious.
This is what a should feels like:
>> Your breathing is short and shallow. It feels tight in your chest/heart chakra.
>> You have to talk yourself into it instead of naturally desiring it.
>> You feel anxiety, stress, or discomfort in the body.
>> You experience feelings of resentment or anger.
>> Your body feels off. You feel unbalanced, off kilter, and confused.
>> Being with the person feels more like an obligation than joyful.
It’s good to do a gut check with someone you trust when you’re trying to determine if something is a should or you’re running away out of fear. Some of us have a pattern of running away too soon, but you know yourself.
It’s our job in this lifetime to learn to trust ourselves and our own inner knowing. Friends and family are great when we need to process and talk things through, but at the end of the day, we need to learn to trust our own inner compass.
Right now, I’m battling a “should” versus giving something more time. When that happens, I go back to the six feelings of a full-bodied yes versus a should I talk about here. I know I’m leaning more toward the should, so I’ve hit the pause button.
Hit the pause button when you don’t know. Hitting pause is more loving and honest than moving full steam ahead with something you’re unsure about. The pause isn’t a no. It’s a “let’s give this some air to breathe.”
Sometimes a little more time and checking in with ourselves once we’ve had time to process what’s coming up for us is all we need to make that final right decision for ourselves.