The World of ‘Should”

February 3rd, 2021 in Blog

How much of what you do is because you think you ‘should’, rather than deciding for yourself it’s the right thing to do?  Many of us live our lives based on other people’s expectations and advice, with no space to consider our own. When we decide others know better and we look to their example or follow their advice, we can end up in the world of should.  How can we avoid it? And how can we help others avoid it too?

‘Should’ is the result of what we’ve learnt is the right thing to do, usually based on other people’s thinking either as direct advice or via our own assumptions. This is particularly true, when we embark on something new, we decide we need to look to everyone else in order to be accepted and avoid mistakes. Do you agree?

The world of should is exhausting because we are not creating enough energy to sustain ourselves. In this world, we are borrowing other people’s energy and ideas and it can feel like pushing a boulder up a hill trying to fit in and meet everyone’s ‘perceived’ expectations of us. 

This was my experience when I first become a parent – there were so many people telling me how to do it, I remember being exhausted from worry, responsibility and lack of sleep. I lost my own sense of self and took what I thought was the easy option and followed everyone else’s compass. Instead of this choice being a short cut to getting it right, it added to the weight of responsibility I already felt and made it even worse – not only did I not know what was best, I struggled to meet these ‘perfect’ expectations.

No wonder so many parents beat themselves up, they are measuring themselves against what they should be doing according to the perfect parent manual and obviously coming up short most of the time because the perfect parent manual doesn’t take them into account – their uniqueness and their child’s uniqueness – how could it? We are the only people that can add this piece of the jigsaw into our decisions and choices.

It’s important to listen and learn from others but to avoid the world of should, we need to match the power of other people’s voices with our own.

How can we practise doing this for ourselves?

  1. Before you ask for advice, stop and ask yourself first. This might change the question or type of advice you ask for. Sometimes we are too quick to ask others and we don’t properly consider it ourselves first.
  2. Listen to others from a place of equality (this includes children) Try not to assume  you know more or less than them and listen as their equal. Whoever they are and however much perceived experience they have, they will not be taking into account your part of the jigsaw when they give advice or share their stories.
  3. Remind yourself what you already know about you and continue to learn more. Your likes, strengths, frustrations, unique circumstances etc. Taking these into account, ask yourself –  How might I do it my way?

We would love to hear your stories and ideas on this – please share below.

How can we help others do this too?

  • 1. If others ask you for advice, always ask them what they think before you share your ideas.

  • 2. When you share your advice avoid saying:

    you need to…        you must..       if I were you I would…

    Try sharing your ideas without telling them what to do.

  • 3. When they ask for your advice, remember they really just want an opportunity to figure it out for themselves, so stay quiet while they do this.

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