Friday, May 4, 2018

Out from under the tyranny of shoulds

The same online course I mentioned a couple of posts back asked us to write down a list of our shoulds, those obligations we impose on ourselves. By the time I was writing the third page, I was laughing so hard I could hardly breathe. Not only were there several dozen very old shoulds (I should stretch every day, I should lose more weight, I should meditate longer) but there were new ones that both appalled me and made me laugh: I should paint more, I should paint every spare minute, I should write every day, I should have more blog readers). The lists went on and on and the burden of them was heavy. I knew I wanted out from under this tyranny.

Much of "should" is in the use of the word. Shoulds  express an obligation of a future action or condition; they aren't about reality. So I have committed to two things. First, I want to turn all my should thinking and speaking into could thinking and speaking. Instead of I should paint more, I want to be thinking I could paint more. Now it's a possibility, not an obligation. Second, when the should impulse comes up, I want to ask myself this question: Do I want to do this or do I not want to do this? That too is friendlier. And for some things, while I might not want to do them, I need to (like going to the dentist or perhaps finishing a work project on a tight deadline) but it's still not a should.

I'm finding that this change in my thinking and speaking is really lightening my load.  

What is your relationship with should?

1 comment:

Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer said...

This looks like a useful approach. I’d get right to it, but I should go vacuum the house.