I recently made a list of every one of my roles, and then wrote down all the shoulds related to each role. So far, I have discovered 40 different roles. Roles are anything that you could conceivably have embroidered on a hat! We all wear a whole bunch of different hats.
As for the shoulds, I was aghast but curious to observe the pages and pages of shoulds that hang around nonchalantly, shooting darts at me all day every day. As I stared at the pages, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.
Should is a very heavy word.
Not only that, but each should holds several more inside, like the maryoshka dolls pictured above.
“I should clean out my car” contains “I SHOULD always have a clean car.” Inside that one: “I SHOULD have a clean car inside AND out.” Inside: “I SHOULD WANT to have a cleaner car.” Inside that one: “I SHOULD get regular oil changes and other periodic service.” Inside that one: “I SHOULD teach Kepler to take all of his trash out of the car every day.” Each one piles on top of the other.
The tiniest maryoshka doll of should is probably the same for every should and has to do with being afraid to make mistakes, or a need to be perfect, or some other aspect of not being enough.
A common example of a should is “I should exericise (more/daily/at all).” And some of us are able to should ourselves to the gym and get it done. But only for awhile. Tony Robbins has a concept he calls “push motivation vs pull motivation.” As he says,
“There are 2 different kinds of motivation: Push requires willpower, and willpower never lasts. What will last is pull – having something so exciting, so attractive, something you desire so much that you have a hard time going to sleep at night, you get up so early in the morning and take it to the next level. That’s what you’re looking to get.”
Does should make me clean out my car? Or want to do it? Well, no, actually. The shoulds simply sit there, judging me. I feel terrible.
With a vague memory of the push-pull concept, I looked at my list and thought there must be some desire under these shoulds. There must be something that I actually want, something that connecting with would transform the should into a want.
What I actually like is what it feels like when my car is clean, inside and/or outside, free of trash, organized, fueled up, and taken care of.
I transform the should into a want like this: I love how it feels to be in my car when it’s clean and organized. I love how it feels to take “exquisite care” of our things. I love feeling content as I drive.
And just like that, I’m motivated to take better care of my car. Just like that. Should is a heavy word. The joy of fulfilling a want is sweet and light and anything but heavy.
4 thoughts on “How to Solve the Problem of “Shoulding” on Yourself”
Great post Susan! I have a bunch of goals lining up for 2018 and will be working on Pull motivations – the carrot vs the stick!
Wonderful! My Mom has been reminding me for years “don’t should on yourself”! This is a helpful approach to accomplish that.
A lovely way to think about this!
Susan, I really enjoyed reading your well-written post. It reminds of a book I just read called Essentialism. Sometime we “should” have a cup of tea and talk “shoulds” 🙂