So, I’ve been absent the past week or two, but I hope you all are doing well!
Today, I wanted to make a little post about the way we speak, and the subtle, but powerful, way it affects us. Earlier this week I was pondering the human condition, as I often do, and had another of my realizations.
“I have to go to the store.”
A simple sentence. Say it to yourself as if you do need to go to the store, and really take a moment to FEEL how it makes you feel. Was there a weight, in your shoulders or perhaps your solar plexus, when you said it? It will be a different feeling for everyone, but if you focus, you will feel a reaction. Now, depending on where you are, and how much of your day has passed, you will usually find that the thought is immediately followed by other thoughts, such as,
“I have to find my purse/car keys.”
“I have to take a shower.”
“I have to get dressed.”
“I have to make a grocery list.”
Each of these thoughts carries its own weight with it, the weight of a thing that must be done, and then the weight of all of the other things that must be done in order to do the first thing. But now, I’d like you to shake off all those thoughts, and try this sentence:
“I get to go to the store.”
Do you feel the difference one little word makes? You may feel a ‘lightening’ feeling, but most often, what you feel is actually the absence of weight. When you ‘have to’ go to the store, you can immediately feel the weight that settles on/in your body, but when you change one little word, when you ‘get to’ go to the store, you have turned an obligation into an opportunity.
An opportunity to get out of the house.
An opportunity to feel gratitude that you even have a store to go to, a place where all of your needs can be taken care of. Eggs without chickens! Milk without cows! Wow!
Remember when you were a little kid? Very rarely did you ‘have to’ go to the store… you GOT to go to the store.
We ‘have to’ do the things we don’t want to do. We have to do our taxes. We have to do our laundry. We have to cook dinner or wash the clothes.
We have to go to work.
But when we get to do these things, suddenly, it’s easier to find gratitude in our day. It’s easier to actually do them, because it’s no longer a chore to be avoided, but an opportunity to be explored. An opportunity for fun, or an opportunity to feel gratitude… opportunities are more FUN than obligations.
We are less resistant to opportunities than we are to obligations.
As you read the following list, pay close attention to your feelings. Note by how you FEEL, whether the item is a ‘have to’ or a ‘get to’. (And there’s no ‘right’ way to feel, either… if you discover ‘have to’ feelings in an area where you thought you felt ‘get to’ feelings, or should feel ‘get to’ feelings… don’t worry, because the first step to getting your feelings where you want them to be is realizing where they actually are!)
Have To or Get To?
- go to work
- pay bills
- go to school
- cook dinner
- go to the store
- talk to my spouse
- talk to my children
- wash dishes
- go to the fair
- call my mother
- call my father
- meet friends for drinks
- go to sleep
- be intimate with my partner
- watch the news
- go to the movies
- be around people
- leave the house
As you can see, everything we do has a (usually) automatic ‘feeling’ which we have assigned it, and the nature of our thoughts dictates whether we ‘have to’ do it, or whether we ‘get to’ do it.
Think about it… how many things in your life do you have to do, versus the amount of things you get to do? We fill our days with ‘have to’ after ‘have to’… by simply naming them ‘have to’s, and everything related to the first ‘have to’, every step required to achieve it, has now become a ‘have to’, too. If you ‘have to’ go to the store, you now ‘have to’ get dressed, drive there, wait in line, pay, come home, put your purchases away…. have to, have to, have to. But if you ‘get to’ go to the store, your day is suddenly full of opportunity, not resistance.
If you have children, or if you have spent any time at all around them, this concepts is SO easy to see in action. Think of your child when they ‘get to’ go to the store… how they behave, their mood, etc. Now, think of your child when they ‘have to’ go to the store with you… their attitude changes drastically, they begave poorly, they have temper tantrums, they are impatient and whiney and you probably just plead with the Universe to allow you to get in and out quickly. Same store, same kids, different attitude. The opportunity, or the obligation.
I believe that so many of us are spending our days, trapped on a hamster wheel of ‘have to’… so we are cranky when we drive, we are impatient in line, we are short tempered with our loved ones… we spend nearly our entire day caught up in our ‘have to’ life, like children forced into the car on Saturday morning, ‘having to’ go to the store and miss our cartoons.
My challenge to you, should you choose to accept, is to spend one day (one week, for the truly daring among you) saying ‘get to’ in place of ‘have to’ (and ‘need to’!). You may find it helpful you to keep a little notebook, and jot down everything you consciously switch… you might be surprised at how much of your life you have developed an attitude of obligation, rather than adventure, about.
As a bonus, make a quick list of three to five things you ‘have to’ do, on a regular basis, and attempt to feel gratitude for them (not just listing things you know you should be grateful for, but actually feeling gratitude)… THEN, repeat the process, but change your words to ‘get to’, and try again to feel gratitude for the things on the list. Wow, right? You can feel the absence of a big chunk of resistance, can’t you?
One little word!
I’d love to hear from you, your thoughts on the topic and your results from the ‘assignment’!