Do you get a tight or sinking feeling in your gut when you say "I should (do this or that)"? The word should is immensely powerful and, in the wrong hands, it can be a dangerous weapon. Are you guilty of reckless should ing? A simple test will determine:
Do you use it on your partner?
Chris is due home at six. 6pm rolls around- no sign of Chris. It turns out to be a blessing. In the half hour that follows, you take out the trash, get the leaves raked and the yard cleaned up ... which would not have been accomplished otherwise. That mess was bugging you all week!
Question: Are you upset with your partner because Chris should have been on time ... even though it wound up working out for the best?
Of course, you are always entitled to your feelings. But ... when a should is the *one and only* reason for getting angry or hurt, it's something you might want to look at. You may very well be bringing a lot of unnecessary pain into your life. And who needs that?
Do you expose your children to it?
Two year old Tommy paints a picture: Pink sky, brown grass, round house ... a masterpiece. He brings it to you for inspection.
Question: Do you inform him that the sky should be blue, the grass green and the house square?
Of course, you're entitled to your opinion and most people would probably paint it that way. But first, think: Do you really want to should on your child? Maybe he's painting a sunset ... Perhaps he'll grow up to be a famous architect, known for his avant-garde designs and million dollar homes ... Or maybe he'll just see the world as a limitless place.
Do you do it to yourself?
Your neighbor invites you to dinner. You're exhausted, there's a deadline looming and you're walking around with a splitting headache. With a groan you say, "But I should go."
Question: Does that should mean you're about to do something which it would be in your best interest to skip?
Of course, the option to go is one you may very well choose. But first, think: What does my should mean? Maybe it is really and truly important for you to go. You may choose to make the best of things and do it, in order to serve a good purpose for you or someone else. Maybe you can change your perspective and focus on all the good and positive reasons to go rather than letting your spirits get dragged down with shoulds and have to's. Or is your should telling you that you're forcing yourself to do something which you'd be better off skipping?
If you answered yes to the questions above, you may be guilty of should abuse. Next time you're playing with should s, remember: Respect this powerful word and watch how you use it. A should is not a toy!
More on De-Shoulding :: Discussion One :: Discussion Two
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Artwork and Text © 2002 Raphael Blue