Last week, I had the pleasure of looking at apartments with my son and a couple of his friends in Manhattan.  The day started early and after a quick breakfast, we were off and running.  Lunch time came and went.  A quick water break, more apartments.  Finally after looking at about five or six apartments, we were able to finally enjoy a much needed supper. Thank God because at that point, I was so hungry I could have eaten my own elbow.

I tell you this because, you see, I’m a grazer who needs to eat every two hours.  I can NEVER go longer than three hours to eat.  I HAVE TO eat this way.  I HAVE TO eat a mid-morning snack.  I HAVE TO eat lunch.  I HAVE TO have a snack in the afternoon and you know I HAVE TO eat dinner.

I was sharing this experience with one of my clients the other day when we were on the subject of healthy eating and when and what to eat.  I shared this story in very a dramatic way about all my HAVE TOs, and it suddenly dawned on me that I have A LOT of “HAVE TOs”.  I have a lot of rules and musts.  When I examined this more closely, I realized many of the have tos are just habits I’ve developed over the years to keep myself safe, keep me focused and, very often, keeping me stuck.

Yes, it is very important to be sure we eat on a regular basis, that’s not the point of this weekly wisdom.  The point is we very often inflict these pressuring “have tos” on ourselves over time.

Here are a few of MY “have to” beliefs:

I have to eat every couple of hours or I’ll die of starvation – really not this case, since I was able to sustain myself last week pretty well even after looking at five walk-up apartments for eight hours.

I have to have dessert after meal – no I don’t…I choose to make this a habit.

I have to eat two things for lunch like a sandwich and some veggies or fruit or chips or a cookie.  Who said?  Where did I learn that?  I picked up this crazy belief somewhere around grammar school when my mom would pack my lunch and always include a sandwich and a dessert.  I’m not 10 anymore!

I have to eat lunch at noon.
I have to look and act a certain way to be liked.
I have to get everything organized and in its place before I can do what I need/want to do.

Do you get my point here?  We instill these “have to” beliefs on ourselves because somewhere in our past they worked. Let’s look at few others we may share.

I have to eat “diet”, fat free, sugar free foods in order to lose weight.
I have to exercise at least two hours every single day.
I have to drink at least three cups of coffee to get me through the day.
I have to wear these baggy clothes so no one will see how fat I am.
I have to wear my cover up at the beach/pool so no one will see my fat body.
I have to keep myself in the background so no one can see me.

And my personal favorite…

I have to be perfect on my diet, or I won’t be successful.

What can you do differently to let go of these annoying, sometimes restricting “have tos”? First, and most importantly, can those “have tos” be changed to shoulds or good, sustainable choices.

Can you take the pressure off the have tos – “have to” is a strong commitment.

Be with those “have to’s”, listen to them and hear their message.  Are these rules someone else gave you way back when?
Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do. Oprah Winfrey

Somethings you can try today to let go of the “have tos”

Listen to what you say to yourself and how you say it.  Become aware of the have tos.  Keep a list on your phone of every time you say “Oh, no, I have to…”  or I have to do it this way or something will happen.

These have to beliefs may be from a long, long time ago.  These have to habits may have served you well one time or another.  Maybe these intense habits are no longer needed.   Sit with that “have to” and ask “Does this belief or habit still serve me now.

It’s all about what happens when we give ourselves the choice or wanting to do something or having to do it because it’s the way we always done it.

Until next week, but for now remember it’s about time we return to the heart.


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