As Dr. Brene Brown puts it, “We live in a society of scarcity”. This means that in our society we never have “enough” and therefore we are never happy. We think that there is never enough time, money, power, resources, attention, cleanliness, love, …[fill in your blank here].
The “Should” Monster is a horrible creature that can be encountered anywhere at any time, even within your own mind! This behemoth reminds you that you are never doing enough or being enough and therefore there is something you “SHOULD” be doing. To this day, I watch this elusive menace consume others around me and often they are unaware of its attack. Why? Because it is a familiar beast that has been with families for generations lurking in the shadows and they wait for it knowing it will strike.
Here are some examples on how to recognize it:
(1) You phone your friend to vent about a problem you had at work that day. You are hoping for an empathetic response like “Wow, that’s really rough! I’ve had similar issue like that and it sucks!” Although you did not ask for advice, the response you get instead is, “Well, you know what you SHOULD do, right? You SHOULD just march right into your boss’s office and tell him off! Or better yet, you SHOULD just quit!”
(2) My ex-husband always made an ambitious To Do List every weekend. It went something like this: Mow and seed the lawn, rotate the tires on the car, finish the work he brought home, wash the cars, go to his parents house to help the father fix his boat, etc. He would then get into bed completely exhausted after he spent the weekend “only” mowing/seeding the lawn until it was perfect. Very disappointed he would say, “Ugh… I SHOULD have gotten more done!”
How To Defeat The SHOULD Monster:
Whenever I hear the word “should” (to me) it always implies obedience to an authority. Easily you can replace the word “should” with the word “COULD” and suddenly it softens it to sound like a choice is involved. Believe it or not, you actually ALWAYS have a choice! Even if you cannot convince someone else to change the word from "should" to "could" when they speak to you, in your head, it may be helpful to change it to the word you want to hear. And when you catch yourself being a “Should” Monster to someone else, realize that you are implying to the other person that YOU are the authority. Now unless all of these people are on your payroll, you really don’t have that kind of authority. You will find that most people will not thank you for telling them what they "should" do. Geez, you don't even like hearing yourself say that in your own mind!
Note that the Should Monster is strongest wherever you feel the weakest and/or most insecure. So try and notice where you feel the sting of it’s bite most and that might be an area you could work on?
….And a personal note to the Should Monster – “Until we meet again, and we will, we are ready for you! Give it your best shot!”
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