"You SHOULD go to college." "Maybe you SHOULD lose ten pounds." "I have the flu, but I SHOULD go to work."
Sound familiar? How many "shoulds" do you hear every day? Maybe you have a well-meaning relative who thinks their opinion about your life matters, maybe it's a spouse, or even a co-worker. Maybe you are the "shoulder" who thinks that you have the right to tell others what to do. It's a nasty habit, but it isn't generally malicious. I get it. You see someone living their life outside of your defined acceptable norm, and you feel that you have the knowledge, experience, or accomplishments to direct them to what the "should" do. But I am here to tell you to take the shoulds and stuff them, anywhere you please. But stop shoulding. Stop listening to shoulds, and stop giving shoulds. They aren't helpful.
Take the shoulds, and stuff them! Anywhere you please.
The word "should" is defined as giving obligation, duty, advice, or correctness. Unless you are the Queen of England, why are we telling people what to do? What makes your path in life so amazingly perfect that you feel the need to use it to direct others? Nothing. That's the answer. And while most of the time we are giving this advice to help, many times it isn't taken as such. I know this because I've lived it. As a kid I loved art. I loved to color, draw, and take pictures. In high school I even won first place in a photography contest. I was a pretty good artist, and wanted to study art professionally and go to art school.
Enter: the shoulds.
As most of the stories that ruin us begin....I had a well-meaning parent. My father didn't think that respected people were artists. Artists starved, artists weren't successful until after they died, artists were bohemian nare-do-wells. Blah...blah...blah... So, you can imagine that after hearing this for years, I eventually abandoned my ambition of studying art and got a "respectful" degree in nursing. Yup, pretty much the farthest from art I could have gone. Was his shoulding really about my choice in professions? Nope. Not at all. It was about him following his own inner script that had been instilled deep in his psyche by his parents, when they thought that he SHOULD go into the NAVY. It's what most of us do, because we have been trained up that way. We feel that guiding and directing is part of our job. But it really isn't. Instead of directing we can try supporting.
Trade in "shoulding" for "supporting".
In life there are a million different paths we can choose that are fulfilling and successful. We do not all need to be soldiers, doctors, or teachers in order to prove ourselves worthy. This goes for our kids too. So, rather than shoulding your children into your idea of what they should be doing, support them in what they are doing. If you have a child who wants to join the circus (like my daughter) support them in that, they may decide it isn't for them, or they may be wildly successful, the key is that they were allowed the freedom to be and do on their own. This same advice goes for anyone else in our life. Let's say you have a co-worker who we will call Sally and she is in a dilema about a career change. Maybe she really wants to be a skydive instructor. Don't tell her what you think she SHOULD do. Ask her what she wants to do and go from there. You may be afraid of heights, losing out on possible retirement, or you love your job because it is your dream job, but that may not be true for Sally. So, unless she is wanting her career change to involve something illegal, like running drugs, try and be supportive. When we support others to experience their own journey, rather than the one the "should" be on, we get to see people for who they truly are. And people can be pretty amazing.