Is what you “should” think and what you “should” do come from a place that is authentic and true for you? As you look more deeply into how you behave and perceive the world, you begin to understand feeling the way you think you should is less about doing the right thing and more about fear, shame and a lack of self trust. When we operate from a “should” point of view we are usually feeling scared or unconfident in our own thoughts and abilities. This leads us to seeking validation from external sources which is often anxiety inducing because we hold ourselves up to the expectations of others.
What we should be asking ourselves is “What do I want?” “Am I behaving in an effective way to get what I want?” These questions come from a deeper place of understanding, authenticity, compassion and truth.
This is not to say that everything we think we should do is inherently bad. That’s a lot for us to assume. Thinking we should do things that are good for us like eat healthier, communicating better, practicing self care etc…. are important. However when we come at these things from a place of “we should” our motivations and underlying intentions can be unhealthy. The “should” concept comes from believing there is a big book of rules that we all have to follow in order to be happy. This is BS. When we are motivated by “should” we are often left feeling angry, resentful and overwhelmed.
We are the masters of our own story. We decide and choose what to do. We are not victims of circumstance. We create our own realities. The true distinction here is “should” is based on some erroneous sense of obligation and choice is “I get to do this”. We can own that responsibility.
Here are a few ways we can stop “shoulding” on ourselves:
Pay attention to how much “should” runs your life. Think about how much of your motivation in relationships or at work are based on “should”. Notice how often the word comes out of your mouth in relation to your own actions and thoughts or in conversations with other people. Understanding is critical to change! When you are able to notice how much you revolve your life around “should” then you can start to learn how to change it!
Play around with different words, thoughts, and motivations other than “should”. Words are powerful! The stories that we tell ourselves (usually in our own minds) are how we put meaning into or make sense of things. So if we can learn to change the way we come at things (i.e. perceive things) then we can change the way react to them and/or solve our problems.
Ask yourself empowering questions. Instead of asking yourself “What should I do?” try asking yourself “What do I want?” “What makes me happy?” Lets ask ourselves more insightful (and less judgmental) questions that lead us to a more authentic place of motivation.