The War of the Shoulds

by on June 30, 2009

Usually the word ‘SHOULD’ has very negative connotations.

We hear ‘should’ – or versions thereof – every waking minute of our growing years …
– “You should do better at school”
– “You should go to college”
– “You should try this drink/sport/drug”

And of course there are the implied ‘shoulds’
– “Stop daydreaming”
– “Try to be nice to Aunt Agatha”
– “Why can’t you be more like your brother?”

And then there are the ‘should nots’ which are actually ‘shoulds’ in disguise
– “You shouldn’t do that”
– “You shouldn’t say that”
– “Who do you think you are?”

Usually these are external pressures applied by well-meaning parents, teachers, friends, bosses, in an effort to protect you, improve you or simply to get you to do what they want you to.

In my search for authenticity, to find out who Jacqui Gates really is and what she stands for, I have dragged many of my own ‘shoulds’ out into the open; scrutinized and evaluated them; accepted a few; rejected many.

What is left are my own ‘shoulds’ – the ones I believe are good for me and the life I am creating. The ones that ring true with the person I am uncovering/discovering. They are the ones I know that, if I did them, they would make me healthier, wealthier and probably wiser too.

But I’ve also realized that, even though these ‘shoulds’ are in my best interests, they still create a ridge of resistance, that imperceptible stiffening of the spine at being told what to do. A childish flash of mutiny that has nothing to do with logic and belies my so-called adulthood.

– I should eat less carbs (But they taste sooo good!)
– I should exercise more (but I don’t have time/don’t wanna)
– I should turn off the TV to do more productive things (but I’m tired/ might miss something)
– I should get those projects done (but, but,but)
– I should write that article/create that splash page/work (too many excuses to mention)

It’s my guess that you also have your own list of ‘shoulds’. You know, those things the little voice in your head whispers would be the right thing to do, but you metaphorically pout and ignore.

Special Note: Be careful here that these ‘shoulds’ are, in fact, your own. So many of us have ‘shoulds’ that have become so ingrained, so programmed into us that we believe they are true and valid. But upon closer examination, many of them are revealed to be outdated, inappropriate to who you really are or who you wish to become, or quite simply an affirmation of someone else’ agenda for you.

If a ‘should’ feels uncomfortable, if that ridge of resentment is instant and palpable, examine it thoroughly in the light of your goals and dreams.

If it fits – fine.
If it doesn’t, discard it, regardless of whether doing so will cause raised eyebrows, snide comments, or outright disbelief.

To do anything else is to lessen your own authenticity; to push your dreams a little further away; to die a little each time.

But here’s a thought – and (finally) the crux of this note:
What if I actually DID these ‘shoulds’?
What if I took a month to silence that inner toddler and in true grown-up fashion, really DO the things I have already determined would be beneficial to me?

Hypothetically speaking, a month of doing what I ‘should’, could result in any or all of the following:-
– I could quite possibly shed 3 – 5 lbs
– I would be fitter
– My business would be more established and probably more profitable
– I would have more time for quality activities
– My house would be cleaner/prettier/more organized

So here is my Challenge – to Myself, and to you, if you wish to accept it.

For the next Four Weeks, I will disregard my inner brat and actually DO what I know I should.

I have a feeling this is going to be revelatory.

Care to join me?

I hate to say it, but you know you probably ‘should’!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracey Keefer March 9, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Another great article Goddess! And you have nailed me dead to rights! I have a should list longer than I would like to admit! But you are correct it is the child like defiance that prevents me from doing them when in all actuality it would be in my best interest to do them. So….I will take your suggestion and start to tackle that list and knock them out and enjoy the results of getting them done and then the benefit of doing them has brought to my life!
Thanks again and always for your insight!

“Dream, Believe, Become…”
.-= Tracey Keefer´s last blog ..Be Socially Acceptable on Social Media =-.


Young And Fabulous March 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm

A lot of the “shoulds” we have today have also been passed to us by our parents and families. Not that it’s their fault, it has been passed to them as well. And as a parent myself, I’ve been tempted to do the same thing to my kids. Being true to yourself is the key, and your guidance to what will tell you what’s right for you. Thanks for this another informative article, Goddess!
.-= Young And Fabulous´s last blog ..On Young And Fabulous: De-Clutter Your Life Now =-.


Lori Thomas March 9, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Very cute post about the shoulds, Jacqueline – I myself have a hard time with saying, “you should” and when people tell me that I should do something, it makes me want to really not want to do it, as it feels like pressure, it seems. And, like you said, that pressure probably comes from childhood stuff when our parents or caregivers wanted to get us to do the things that they thought were the best for us to do.

I think, I have already joined you in doing the shoulds for myself though, as I am now doing many things that I have been thinking and wanting to get done for awhile, and it feels so really good to be getting these things done, finally –

Thanks for reminding me and giving me more encouragement to keep doing, those must do things…
.-= Lori Thomas´s last blog ..Your Dreams say alot about You… =-.


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