Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's a trap

Four letter words are, indeed, rude, often hateful, and lacking in decorous elocution.  However, I think the single worst word one can use is 'should'.  That's right 'should'.  It puts a bad taste in my mouth.  It is a demanding word, insistent on its own way, and creates a standard with pressure to follow. 

There are two main ways the word 'should' can be used toxically. 

1) When other make demands on us

and, possibly worse

2) When we make (often illogical) demands on ourselves

The first represents guilt and, many times, manipulation.  It is a person telling you exactly what you 'should' be doing- and how often how you should be doing it!  You tell this person,  "I am sorry, I have a previous engagement that day, so I really cannot make the party".  What is the appropriate response to this?  "I understand, but we'll miss you.  Let's raincheck!".  What is the 'should' person's response?  "You really should stop by, even if it is just for a minute".  Seriously?  I just said I cannot make it.  Is that not enough?  In the past, I would have felt tremendously guilty or a since of obligation and rearranged my day.  Likely, this would consist of shortening my time at my previous engagement, wrangling a toddler between activities, living in my car to get from place to place, stressing over traffic and making time, etcetera!  Why?  Why did all this stress and insanity ensue?  Because someone said "should" to me.  Shudder.  Instead of managing my time and my sanity, I allowed someone saying "should" to dictate my day and throw me into a needless chaos.  No more.

The second should is a torture we inflict on ourselves.  It is that unhealthy picture in our mind of the way things should be. 

I should be able to keep a clean house 98% of the time;  I should be able to entertain my toddler with enriching activities without needing to resort to television; I should be able to watch my weight all the time and exercise.  High expectations for a mom who works full time, tries to be a good wife, and tries to carve out five minutes to do something to replenish herself every-so-often.  (only a couple of months ago, graduate student was part of that description! Ahhh!)  As a mom, I should be able to plan those cute child birthday parties- like you see on pinterest.  As a wife, I should be able to work the fifties' housewife model, even as a full time teacher.  As for me, I should put myself on the back burner.  How is that for delusional?!

What I have truly learned is: I am a whole lot happier when I stop worrying about how I should be, what I should be doing, and how I should be doing things, and just live- the best way I know how!  At the end of the day, half of the things I think I should be doing are a little unrealistic or even not terribly important in the first place.  Besides, another consequence of should is its tendency to accompany comparison- ie. I should be able to accomplish this because so and so did and I am as capable as them.  Um, really?  Do you actually know they even accomplish this?  Do you know if they had help?  Does it matter because you are a different person, living a different life?!  EXACTLY.  Comparison is, truly, the thief of joy.

It's a trap.  I quit leading the life I should live and started leading the life I can.  This is definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made.  

1 comment:

  1. Bravo! I agree and try to live my life this way.