Have you fallen into the Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda Trap? You can tell because it sounds like this: “I really should get around to…”, “I could have done that because I had the time, but…”, “I would like to be able to…”. Be careful! This is one of the most dangerous problems for gifted adults.
Being caught in the Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda Trap sounds like it isn’t a big deal, but in gifted adults it can actually lead to depression and suicide if left long enough. We are very in tune with what we know we can do (even if we’re not totally consciously aware of this) and what we are doing. And when this gap widens for us we feel down about ourselves, sometimes to the extent of deciding it’s all not worthwhile and permanently ending the pain.
So what’s the answer?
There are 3 steps to turning this around:
1. Change your shoulds into musts. Make a list of the things you’ve caught yourself saying that you should do. Then look at the list and decide if those are the things you really want. Sometimes our shoulds come from other people – from what they think is appropriate for us – and are not things we truly desire for ourselves right now. So cross those ones off, and put brackets around the items that are nice for someday but don’t have a high priority for you.
The ones that are left, probably 3-5 points (if you have more than that go back and reevaluate again), separate them and write a new list – the must list. These are the ones that are absolute have-to’s with no room for putting them off.
2. Consciously change your beliefs. If these top priority things are not happening in your life, then that means you’re holding some kind of belief that says that they can’t or that something negative would happen if they did.
Purposefully think about these items and notice the first feelings that come up when you do. The emotions may intellectually seem irrational or childish even, but don’t beat yourself up over feeling them. Notice them and then think about how they have stopped you so far in your life.
Take a moment and remember a time when you felt that emotion in the past and then realized after the fact that it was unwarranted. Hold onto that sense of relief and knowing, and bring that emotion into your current situation. Choose the belief you want to have and add it to the positive emotion. Then focus only on your new belief.
3. Find the right strategy. Once you’ve decided upon your musts and have focused on your success, you have to take some steps to get there. Brainstorm at least 10 ways to achieve your goal and then choose the top one to get going on. There are many paths to your destination, but taking the best route will save you time and effort in the end.
If you need someone else’s help at this point, go out there and ask. Gifted people tend to think they need to have all of the answers themselves, but making connections with others really makes a huge difference, so do it.
Taking these 3 steps will help you get out of the Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda Trap and get some amazing things happening in your life. Before you know it you may find that your have-to’s have become done-that’s and you can keep moving on to bigger and better things.
And when you do, you’ll come back and share your successes here, right? We’d all love to celebrate with you!