Start Here

One of the most intimidating things about starting any journey or learning a brand new skill is that feeling of not knowing what you don’t know. It’s especially difficult for Shouldaholics because we are wired to feel a lot of shame for not knowing what we think we should know. The bigger problem is that we think we should know things that we just haven’t had the chance yet to experience, learn, practice, and perfect (no pun intended here).

A journey to wellness is just not that easy to start or maintain. Part of the reason for that is just not really knowing what is wrong. You might have an underlying physical medical issue that is causing hormonal imbalance or you’ve experienced trauma that is now unconsciously in your system, causing over-reaction to everyday situations. These things can cause so much stress and often take a long time to uncover and then address.

Add to that our impatient desire to urgently fix it yesterday, and you just end up with an extra layer of anxiety that is completely counterproductive. It’s also never a simple answer. There really is no magic pill or panacea.

Most Shouldaholics I know are very logical, rational people who like to operate using the pre-frontal cortex part of the brain where we learn things intellectually and theoretically and rationally. Unfortunately, when the emotional side kicks in (like in an emotional flashback), we will find it difficult to behave in an ‘appropriate’ way. This then gives us even more opportunity to ‘should’ ourselves with blame, shame, and guilt.

If this sounds familiar to you and you find yourself nodding with frustration, you are definitely not alone. So many of us read self-help books, listen to podcasts, and watch videos to learn how to be better people, to have better relationships, to be healthier. 

Intellectually we can totally agree with what we are being taught, but when push comes to shove or when we get triggered, we can be so overwhelmed from our stress hormones that we cannot regulate our emotions and we end up doing or saying things that we later regret (like hurt people we love).

So we are dealing with 1) I don’t know what is wrong with me, 2) I need this fixed now, and 3) I’m not sure this is fixable. This kind of self-talk can send us into spirals of shame and despair.

So, what to do at the start of this journey?

Well, I would suggest doing a bit of your own research, googling shame, reading up on research about perfectionism (like from Brené Brown), and getting a feel for your own situation.

Google it, read up on books, watch some videos. However you learn best. Some people are visual learners, others are more auditory learners. I am very much an experiential learner, I have to make the mistakes and talk about it and hypothesize if I could’ve done it differently… That’s why I like coaching. Because it allows my client to learn from each situation when we get together and unpack it, connect some dots, visualize some potential options for future situations, and practice. More often than not, they don’t even hear their inner critic or they can’t see it as an attack on themselves. So it happens and they suffer.

Ideally, you will get to place where you become aware as soon as it starts up, you’ll identify where it comes from (often from unprocessed trauma or wounds), you will use tried and true tools and techniques to soothe and regulate yourself, and it will get easier over time as you practice.

But if you want to do a bit of research on your own, I have a few videos that I’d like you to watch with questions for you to reflect upon.

Link below:

Published by Sherry Yuan Hunter

Sherry Yuan Hunter is a certified trauma recovery coach and certified parenting coach. Taiwan-born American-Canadian Chinese, married, working mother of two, Sherry identifies as a Sandwich Parent, Third Culture Kid, an untigering Mom, and Recovering Shouldaholic. Based in Toronto, Canada, Sherry has been working in student success programs at University of Toronto for 20 years, supporting students, young professionals, new managers, working moms, and new immigrants to success.

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