Monday, June 27, 2011

Aw man, I just got “shoulded” on

The word “should”… it has become a nemesis of mine.  Few words that are so seemingly benign have the ability to make suck away your power and instantly squash your flow of authenticity (there is that word again) as does the drop of the word “should”.  Sure, there are other more ostentatious and blatantly harmful words that “should” doesn’t hold a candle to (e.g. racial slurs, profanity as adjectives, yo’ momma jokes, and words like “stupid”) but “should” is a sneaky mo’ flicker that puts you in your place without you even realizing its effect. “Should” implies there is a right way that differs from what is right now;  that what I am doing now is insufficient, not the best path, not right.  The word “should” is not only limiting by setting parameters of what is the best way but is almost chastising and even demeaning.  The inclusion of the a “should” in a statement changes the tone and transforms the message from one  that presents alternative options to “your instinct is defunct so let me make the decisions for you”. I know, this seems like a lot of power and responsibility to hang on a single word, but I feel the word kind of deserves it.   It’s a “should”-talker.
We owe it to ourselves to trust in our own instinct and decision making skills by listening to what lies within us.  This is not to say that we instinctually hold all of the information within us and  that we can skate through life without valuable input from those who have greater knowledge or experience, but it is up to each of us to take all of that information into consideration and make the best decisions for ourselves.  Because no one knows what is best for you other than you (even if it does get  “need-to-change-my-shorts” scary)  if you are honest with yourself with good intentions and you truly listen.  It is all in there within you.  And who better than you have your own best interests in mind?
This diatribe sounds like it is instructing you to stand up against other who try to tell you what to you, but I believe the biggest culprits of “shouldload” dropping upon us is in fact ourselves.  Sure, friends, family, experts, bosses, even baristas-come-family therapists impart their opinions in terms of “should”, but we do the most of the “shouldding” in our lives.  How often do we change make up our minds because of an expectation we have of ourselves or, even worse, that we assume others have of us?  Not that they actually do, but we make a choice based upon what we think will impress others most.  
“I should visit my aunt”
“I should get to work early since my boss will be there early”
“I should not wear my favorite dress because the ‘she’ once said that I don’t look good in yellow”
“I should turn down my music in my car because I don’t want everyone to know that I like Justin Bieber”.
In fact, the whole notion of guilty pleasures is one giant “should” that we take on ourselves even though we project it on to others.  It is a shame need to hide those things that we truly enjoy but are secretly embarrassed to admit because of our worry of what others will think of us.  Reality TV junkie?  Angry Birds addict? Eat sticks of butter over the sink? Belt out Captain and Tennille every morning on your commute to your high-tech VP job?  Foot fetish?  Those things are neither wrong nor detrimental to anyone (especially you), yet we hide them because of the “shoulds” that we assume others place on us, even when we have no evidence that those opinions exist.   We project the image we want to portray onto the expectations of others.  So not only are we “shoulding” on ourselves, but we are making an unfounded assumption that friends, family and society are “shoulding” on us as well… without them even knowing it.  If only we could shed the “should” and live authentically – make decisions that are feel “right” to our core that represent what we truly are and truly feel, rather than based upon obligations we feel from others, limitations we place upon ourselves or, even worse, limitations that we  invent others place upon us.
Authenticity is my biggest keyword and removing the “should” is a major step in that direction.  I would love for all of us to take a stick and scrape the piles of “should” from the bottoms of our “should”-kickers that we pick up as we walk our path each day.  This is merely food for thought, not a mandate.  I lay this before you as an option for how we conduct our lives, not as an expectation… because who am I to “should” on you?
Stay tuned for part two of my diatribes on expectations about the feeling of things we HAVE to do… entitled  “Must-urbation”.   (insert rim-shot here)  …just for “shoulds and giggles” of course.  (yow, I’m on fire).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you work for WikiHow? So weird....