How Should Has No Meaning

Maybe it’s just those right place, right time things, but it seems like a lot of folks have been dealing with the word, “should” lately.

Erin Kurup blogged about it on her web site, Remade By Hand (newly-relaunched, by the way – make sure to go check her content services out). A couple of folks on my Facebook lists have been dealing with it.

And I’m no exception.

Yet in dealing with that word, I’m discovering what it really means – and how meaningless it is.

The (lack of) meaning of “should.”

At first blush, “should” seems a powerful word. A motivator. A sign that something requires your action, a change for you to make.

Yet when you use the word – or when you notice other people use it – it’s always in the context of how the world doesn’t match your (or their) expectations.

People should be more polite. Taxes should be lower. Common sense should be more common.

And then there are those times when you use it in the context of yourself.

I should be learning programming and site design so I can get The Blog Of Living Curiuosly looking the way I want it. I should be putting time in every day on the guitar. I should be working on something else instead of painting my miniatures.

I should know what I want my website / freelance career to be about by now. I should have clients. I should know how I can help people out.

I should have a direction.

I should be less fearful.

There’s a thought.

Have you ever noticed how fear is at the heart of your emotional state whenever you use the word “should?”

Every time you use it?

You’re frustrated with how those morons in charge keep making your life or the lives of those you love more miserable. Disappointed that you’ve yet again not taken action to make your life match the ideal in your head.

That’s what makes me so afraid: That the mismatch between my “shoulds,” internal or external, and life indicates I’m incapable of handling what life throws at me.

It even undermines the things I enjoy. There’s always a “should” that I should be doing instead. I’m frowning on my own tastes, my own choices of how I spend my time.

So a should, ultimately, is a sign that I don’t trust myself, that I don’t approve of myself.

That’s why it’s meaningless.

It’s never too late to get should out of your way.

I’m working on it at the moment.

When I notice myself shoulding, I realise the should is just a manifestation of my lack of trust in myself.

So, I do the opposite. I trust in what I’m doing right now. I approve it, and myself doing it.

Usually, if there IS something I could be doing, I find myself doing it calmly and pleasantly once the shoulds have departed.

Not only that, it lets me trust in doing the things I enjoy without that damning, nagging thought that I’m wasting my time – I’m doing something (usually creative) that I’m finding joy in, and I am worthy of joy.

Finally, it puts me in a mindset where I trust that the bigger stuff will sort itself out in time – I don’t have those big answers about the site, the career, the clients, yet because there are other questions I need to answer first.

And I can only answer those in their own time.

Are you stressing?

What are your shoulds? The ones about the world and people around you, the events that affect you? The ones about yourself, your choices, your actions (or lack thereof)?

How are you rebuilding your trust in yourself in the face of all those shoulds?

2 thoughts on “How Should Has No Meaning

  1. Erin Kurup

    You make so many great points here, Rob. In particular for me: the relationships between should and fear, should and trust, should and expectations. When I wrote my post, most of the shoulds on my mind were smaller, action-related ones. But you’ve pointed out that there are shoulds at much higher levels, too — up where the issues are bigger, deeper, broader.

    Without really realizing those shoulds were there, I can see how I’ve started taking steps to get around them. Like you, I’m working on getting okay with where I am, letting things unfold as they will (without being completely passive, of course!), enjoying what I’m working on and trusting myself. And the shoulds don’t feel nearly as scary as they could because of it. One day at a time, eh?

    • Rob F.

      Thanks for commenting, Erin! Yep, one day at a time! 🙂

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