Stop Shoulding All Over Yourself: The Power of NOW

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” Pema Chodron

This past year has been a personal and professional transformational period for me. To glimpse a little further into my story, click here:

I’ve made giant strides in many areas, but one thing I still do is this…

I “SHOULD” all over myself.

You see, we are constantly growing, learning, discovering… With time, experience, and “MISTAKES,” we develop. It’s like the bud of a flower. Little by little, with constant nurturing, that bud, it starts to blossom. And if you have ever witnessed this happening in either yourself or someone else, well, it’s breathtakingly beautiful to watch unfold. But SOMETIMES, during these periods of self-discovery, we reflect on the past. Particularly, on the experiences that haunt us. And we “should-have” all ourselves. Check it out, can you relate to any of mine?

-       Why wasn’t I Iike this, then?
-       I wish this had happened sooner?
-     Why didn’t I understand at that time?
-     If only I had done (insert whatever) at (insert whenever)
-     What if I was like this (time when you were not)
-       I wish I had told him/her…
-       I should have realized these things before (insert: shi*t hit the fan)
-       I wish I had overcome that before ______
-       I wish I knew what I know now

Prefer lighter fare?
-       I shouldn’t have posted that on Facebook, I look stupid 
-       I shouldn’t have taken that day off to go skiing because now I am so far behind with work
-       I should have gotten up 2 hours earlier and gone to the gym instead of laying in bed with my husband 
-       I should have had the grilled chicken salad instead of the steak and potatoes
-       I should have thought about that more thoroughly before I talked about it in the meeting
-       I should have pushed through that workout instead of doing corrective work or hitting the sauna (Today for me! And it was a glorious morning for an impromptu sauna-sesh)

Okay, now I am going to ask you to get a little uncomfortable. I want you to think about something that you have been should-having all over yourself about lately. We are human… and being human means experiencing things falling apart, to come together, to fall apart…. (thanks, Pema). If you are like me, there might be more than a few. But think of the one that stands out the most. Perhaps it’s a monumental experience that occurred in your lifetime. You know, the one that knocked the wind out of your sails. That gut-wrenching yet numb pain that still seems to linger, despite the passing time. The one that left you… well, never quite the same.  Or perhaps you would prefer to start with something a bit lighter, like “I shouldn’t have taken the day off to go skiing because now I am bogged down in work.”


Got yours?  Okay, me too.

First, grab a piece of paper and a pen.

Now, I want you to close your eyes. Envision this experience. Take yourself back. Let yourself feel.

You now have 2 minutes to “shoulda, woulda, coulda” all over yourself.

Ready, set, go.

Whew! Bet that stirred up a lot of emotions for you, eh?

I took a day off of work last week to go skiing. You see, in January I broke my leg. This was a GYNORMOUS bummer to me. This was my first winter living in VT, I had just gotten FAT new skis, got myself a season pass, and was super pumped for ski season. 10 days later I broke my tibia. Long story short, last week I had gotten the "ok" to tackle some “tame groomers.” I accomplished everything and then some at work, and then jumped off the grid for a long awaited day on the slopes.

It was an EPIC day.

just kidding :) 

pretty cool view from the top of Okemo, eh? Look at our Ascutney standing so tall!


I came back to work the next day feeling refreshed and ready to go! But I stepped into a giant MESS! A flooded email inbox, issue after issue, etc. BAH! Instant guilt for taking the day off the day prior, ensued.

My "Shoulding" Exercise:

-       I should have gotten farther ahead of my to do list
-       I should have prepped for this meeting ahead of time
-       I should have checked email when I got home last night
-       I should have kept my phone with me yesterday so I could be available to those who needed help
-       I should work a half day tomorrow or take work home just to get ahead, even though it’s a Saturday and I don’t work on Saturday
-       I should be working harder, I am slacking. I need to dial it in.


There is a REASON why I decided to treat myself to a ski day. There was a reason I felt that I needed to get off the grid. 

If I can give you ONE SINGLE piece of advice, it is to OWN YOUR DECISIONS AND EXPERIENCES. Own them. All of them. Whatever it is. OWN IT. Even if it is not the decision or choice you would have made again,









Life’s greatest gift? I think it is that you ALWAYS have the power of choice. And the really, super, awesome thing about life, is that you can make a new choice, create a new path, take a new chance, try a new thing... every single second. There are 86,400 seconds in a day. That means you get 86,400 chances to make a choice! Did the choice you made not work out? Good to know! Try something new! 86,400 seconds in a day also means that you are going to screw up, a HELL of a lot in your lifetime. Get used to it! Embrace it. Learn. Let go. Live NOW. Obsessing about what you could have done differently in the past will not change the past. It will prevent you from living abundantly in this current moment. 

You develop, you learn, you grow…on the universe’s time. Not when it is convenient for you. I will say again… things fall apart, and they come together, and they fall apart again. It is a constant flow. Don’t fight the flow. You won’t win. Instead, relax into it. The timing of these waves may not be ideal for you. But it is ideal to the universe, and you must just trust the process. We may never know why things happen the way they do. We may die unenlightened.  But perhaps, there is a small chance that one day, when you are 95…. sitting in a rocking chair….sipping a glass of lemonade on your wrap-around-porch…gazing out at that Vermont sunset…next to the person you love the most,  you may chuckle to yourself and think, “Ahh!, Yes, I suppose I see now :)


Okay, if I could give you another HUGE piece of advice:

Put what you want, out there into the universe. Ask for what you want. Imagine it happening. See it. Think it. We become our thoughts. It is the law of attraction. You will most certainly become and attract what you think about most.

“It is what it is.” The past is over. You can’t go back. It happened the way it happened for reasons you may not ever understand. Don’t waste your precious time reliving these experiences. It is not going to get you to where you desire to be. Move forward and don’t look back. You are not going that way. Change what you cannot accept and accept what you cannot change.

WHEN you decide that you have power and control over your mind, WHEN stop focusing on what you DON’T want and start focusing on what you DO want…well that, my friends, is when the magic happens.

Remember that loss or that issue that has been nagging at your side? This is what you are going to do now. Instead of shoulding all over yourself, jot down all of the blessings that have come from that one experience. You will be PERPLEXED by how many you find!

Here is mine. I'm a really private person about a lot of things, but I am getting person right now to show you that THIS MINDSET WORKS!  

I lost the man I love:
-       I rescued my dog Deeks, who is now my world
-     I started doing all of these super cool, awesome things, BY MYSELF.
-     I read many inspirational books
-     I realized I’m pretty dang special
-       I hiked and snow shoed all over New England
-       I moved to Brownsville, VT. And I have never felt more happy or at home in my entire life.
-       I started to fall in love with my job. Wow, what an incredible opportunity. Such creative freedom. No glass ceiling!
-       I found how I love to move my body, and ditched what no longer worked for me
-       I began to write
-    I made an incredible group of friends, stretching from 18 years old to 88!
-    I rented my first house, and I have my first wrap around porch. My dream since I was a little girl
-       My backyard is LITERALLY Mt Ascutney!
-       I fell in love, all over again, and border line unhealthily, with skiing. Can you blame me?
-       I became a bit of a free spirit
-       I got outside of myself, stopped feeling like a victim, and learned to give back to others (I still have A LOT of work to do on this…trust me)! I feel like I can give to others now because I am no longer an empty vessel, I feel SO FULL!

The power is in the NOW. Today. You are you. People may give up on you, but DO NOT EVER GIVE UP ON YOURSELF! Don’t ever forget where you came from, the transformations and the progress that you have made. Understand that you are on the universe’s time for a reason, and that it may have a different plan for you. The timing of life’s events and experiences may not always be ideal for YOU.  But I fully believe that as long as we keep our hearts full and our eyes open… this life with all of it’s twists and turns, ups and downs, it all comes together. 

Ascutney and Stratton from Okemo at Sunset :)



Erin Kershaw, M.S, ACSM-HFS
Wellness Director, The Edge Fitness Center at the Ascutney Mountain Resort