It might not be immediately obvious, but we are all guilty of shoulding on ourselves and others… some of us more so than we might want to admit.
There are 3 types of shoulds that most of us regularly employ that really aren’t doing us much good.
Should #1 – Shoulding on the Self:
“I SHOULD do well at everything and be approved of, liked, and admired by everyone or else I am no good and do not deserve to be happy.” This demand on the self results in anxiety, depression, and often allowing others to take advantage of us – none of which feel very good.
Should #2 – Shoulding on Others:
“Other people SHOULD treat me with kindness and fairness or else they are no good, rotten people who deserve misery and punishment.” This demand on others leads to resentment, isolation, hostility, and violence.
Should #3 – Shoulding on Life
“Life SHOULD be fair, easy, painless, and free of difficulties or else it’s terrible, I won’t stand it, and it’s hardly worth living.” This demand is associated with hopelessness, procrastination, and unhealthy or destructive coping methods.
We need to start giving these shoulds a run for their money. They need to be challenged because they don’t deserve to have the final say. They might persist, but we don’t need to agree with them – we can confront them head on with questions like: “What makes this should a load of…?” “Where are the flaws in this should?” “Who says it should be this way?” and “How do I know this should is being difficult, unreasonable, and just plain not nice?”
Shoulds often sneakily creep up in our thoughts more often than we might think: “I should do this,” or “they should do that” etc… They are nasty little buggers.
Take some time over this next week to catch yourself shoulding on yourself, and then see if you can change that should to a simple “I would prefer” or “it would be nice if”… Give it a try and see what you notice.