The Thing About Shoulding...
Here is an article I wrote in January of 2010. I'm bringing it back to remind you to clean up your should.
This holiday season, since around Thanksgiving time, I’ve been shoulding all over the place. I should be doing this, and shouldn’t be doing that. I should be writing or I should be resting or I should be working or I should be doing…anything other than I am. And on and on. And on. Exhausting. I, in fact, created such an enormous pile of should that I practically buried myself under it. But as a reached my arm out through the mound built around me I realized…it’s time to clean some should up.
Should, as I’ve announced from my soapbox in the past, is really my least favorite word in the English language. It feels rigid, bossy, and deeply judgmental. We react aggressively to should, rather than respond gently to it. When someone, including our own inner voice, shoulds us, we enter the dangerous zone of questioning ourselves from all angles. Am I doing something wrong? Am I choosing wrong? Am I being wrong? Should I do, choose, be…different?
An active shoulding practice is not a modern phenomenon. We humans have been shoulding forever with no boundaries of age, religion, race, or gender. Shoulding is human and well, should happens. But why?
The thing about shoulding is that it’s the grand outcome of a recipe made up of…What other people want from us, what we think other people want from us, what we want other people to think of us, and what we truly want. Combined: all you got is a pile of should. Got that sweet thing? Ya, I know…read that a few more times, I’m not goin’ anywhere.
There is no particular order that the ingredients for the should-recipe are added and no particular amount of each necessary. For each person it’s different, depending on the nature you were born with and the nurture you were raised with.
Regardless of each persons recipe combination though, the goal is the same; to separate, extract, and differentiate each ingredient. To see what your should is really made of.
Get curious about the parts of your should. What part of it is an expectation from another person? What part is coming from your authentic self? Are there parts that are simply assumptions of what you think others want you to be? What about that part coming from your ego wanting people to think you are a certain kind of person? Ya, that’s the stuff.
Listen, I don’t know what you should or shouldn’t be doing, and so on. And maybe, when it comes down to it, you should be, well, doing that thing. But who knows? What I do know is that when we should ourselves, or get shoulded on, we become entranced and even a little obsessed with the content of the should, that we don’t allow ourselves to submerge and participate in what it is that we are doing or who we actually are. We are missing the moment…we are literally letting should, weigh us down.
So, a new resolution for 2010: Clean it up a bit…figure out what your should is made of, get curious about it, question it, and just try…try to stop shoulding all over yourself.