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Elle Luna’s Tool to Cultivate Self-Awareness, Drop the Should and Reach the Must

Less than a year ago, artist Elle Luna wrote an essay on Medium that instantly went viral and changed her life along with the one of many others. The name of her essay: The Crossroads of Should and Must.

You don’t need to read the essay (although you should) to know what this is about and to guess why so many felt compelled to read it. The crossroads of Should and Must is one that we all have to face, time and time again.

If you read this blog, you’ve probably chosen Must more than once in your life, but that never makes it easy. You might have fought your way to become a filmmaker, but ended up stuck making corporate videos because you should make money. It’s easy to fall back on Should. 

Fortunately, Elle Luna talked about ways to cultivate awareness and get closer to your Must in a podcast conversation on The Unmistakable Creative, and here are the tools she mentions:

Elle Luna’s Tool to Cultivate Self-Awareness, Drop the Should and Reach the Must

“We kind of imagine should and must going on opposite directions. Should and Must do go on opposite direction, however oftentimes the best way to get to Must is by understanding Should first. Because Should is this thing that takes us away from us, it goes in the opposite way.

If you want to get to know Must, if you want that energy to be flowing towards the creativity, the passion, the projects, spend time getting to know Should.

One example is as simple as grabbing a piece of paper and writing your Shoulds down. You should… fill the blank. These are oftentimes beliefs system that we inherit early on in life. You Should know better than to… You Should not…

Fill those in on a piece of paper, take ten minutes to do it, and then line by line, go through that list and ask them three questions.

The first: Where did you come from? Where did I first meet you?

The second question is: Where did I begin integrating you into all of my decision making and do I want to keep holding on to you?

And the final question is about Do I want to keep this Should in my life? Maybe the answer is ‘Yes, actually that’s something that’s really hard, but I want it in my life.’ And that Should ceases to be a Should and becomes a Must.

Or you can say “You know, this thing has served its purpose, its time is done and it’s really getting heavy to carry.” That’s when you set that Should down, and that’s a powerful moment, because the more we scrub away at the Shoulds of our lives, the more space we make for the energy going toward Must.

And there’s a bunch of other examples for dealing with Should but I would say for people who want to get more in touch with Should, a really brave, courageous way to go is to say “I’m going to let go and look at this Shoulds. I wanna bring self-awareness to where I don’t want my energy to continue to go.”

Because often those things are camouflaged and they are kind of mixed in. And that’s why they’re tricky to find, but once you begin clearing space, you begin saying ‘Ok, now I’ve got energy, now I’ve got time. What do I do with it?’

And then that’s when you begin to step into Must.”

I thought that was a very powerful and practical way to look at something that feels at times like gigantic problem. If you connect to this, I recommend you to listen to the full podcast below.

Elle Luna wrote a book on the matter of finding your passion: The Crossroads of Should and Must, Find and Follow Your Passion, and is also behind the global experiment #100dayproject, that I’m currently doing under the hashtag #100daysofrondas.