How many times during the day do you think yourself, “I should really do x.” Or do you say to your children, “honey, you should do y.” Have you ever stopped to think about what the word “should” truly means?
Consider: how do you know you or your child or anyone should do something? Where did you learn that? How do you know it’s true?
I find that when I use the word “should,” it’s usually not my voice. It’s the voice of a teacher, or parent, or boss, telling me to do something. We learn to internalize a million different rules and expectations as we go through life, not always stopping to question whether we want or need to do them – we only know that we’re supposed to, we should, because someone told us to. Of course, part of being an adult and a parent is to acquiesce to (some of) the ways of the world and to teach to our children how to behave so they have an easy time communicating, socializing, and working with others. But often the word “should” indicates something you feel obligated to do, or guilty about, not something that’s true to your own integrity.
In the coming week, I invite you to notice when the word “should” appears in your life. Bring mindfulness to its presence in your mind. You should go to that networking event, but you want to spend the evening at home with your kids. You should read that book, but you want to watch a movie. You should sign your child up for another activity, but you want her or him to consider getting a job.
Sometimes it is important to push ourselves, to get out of our comfort zones and do something different, though we may be nervous or hesitant. But other times, “should” is a voice encouraging us to keep up with the Joneses, rather than to make meaningful changes and live in our integrity. How does “should” show up in your life?