How often do you think the words ‘I should’ or ‘I have to’ and then feel guilty because you don’t want to?
If you are like most people, you probably have at least a few of these thoughts daily.
Thoughts that include the words ‘should’, ‘must’ & ‘have to’s are another type of irrational thinking which I call thinking in terms of an ‘absolute’. These are limiting because they are stuck in the narrow-minded perspective that says that there is only one acceptable outcome, and any other outcome is completely unacceptable. Ideas such as ‘a lady must keep her knees together at all times’, ‘a child should never speak until spoken to’, ‘you have to do _____, right now!” and, of course, the infamous ‘you should know better’ are all basically ultimatums that are saying that it absolutely has to happen this way, there is only one possible choice, or only one way something is supposed go – anything other than that one choice is automatically labeled as bad, bad, bad.
When we regularly entertain ‘should’, ‘must’ and ‘have to’ kind of thinking, we stay stuck in a guilt-producing pattern that creates nothing but stress and anxiety as we strive to keep up with the ever-growing list of ‘should’s and ‘have to’s. The idea that you ‘should’ or ‘must’ do something implies that there is just that one correct option, which brings guilt into play if you choose differently.
Because ‘should’s are severely locked in the fear-based, right/wrong perspective, people who habitually ignore all of their ‘should’s will be riddled with guilt and beating themselves up inside for their constant sense of wrong-doing. Conversely, people who listen to their ‘should’s will be filled with resentment, steaming inside with a sense of being trapped doing a bunch of things they really don’t want to do. Or, they will become paralyzed, catatonically depressed because they feel powerless, thinking they do not having any free will choice in their lives. People who do a combo of both complying with and ignoring their ‘should’s will feel bad, guilty, resentful, depressed and anxious… all the time. Yeesh.
I speak from personal experience, former anxious wreck right here. I was so stressed out about getting everything right all the time, futilely attempting to listen to each and every internal ‘should’ until I was complete mess, drained, depleted and exhausted. At the same time, I hated complying with my internal ‘should’s and allowed myself to resent myself for each and every ‘should’ I followed. When I listened to the resentment and ignored a particularly obnoxious ‘should’, I felt terrible, horrible, bad, rotten, awful to the point that I would beat myself up incessantly for weeks on end over every little thing I ‘should have’ done yet didn’t. Whew!
Thank God I woke up and discovered rational thought. Letting go of my irrational beliefs based on ‘shoulds’ was an act of kindness toward myself that felt live-saving. By letting these go, I claimed the full power of my free will choice and moved into greater internal freedom, simply by changing my ‘should’s to ‘could’s.
If you can change each ‘should’ into a ‘could’, this will allow for your free will choice in the matter at any given time; you will begin to live free of guilt, knowing that there are any number of acceptable choices at any given time.
Instead of thinking ‘I should do _____ right now’ (fill in the blank: my work, my homework assignment, the dishes, the errands, the bills, my exercise, etc.), you could decide to think, ‘I could do ____ right now’. See how this instantly lifts off the pressure? This makes it Ok to decide to read a book in that moment and do _____ later, guilt-free, knowing that there is no right or wrong choice; there are just decisions, what happens and the consequences of your choice. Or, you could happily decide to do _____, feeling good and empowered about your choice rather than resentful because you felt like you had to do something and were powerless to choose differently.
Remember that the ultimate goal is to live in a state of ease. If you can begin to clear the irrational beliefs based on absolutes from your consciousness, you will bring in more peace, more ease and more relaxation into your life. Say, “I let go of the ‘should’s and move into ‘could’s.” Taste the freedom.
Many Blessings of Joy and Vibrant Freedom
Action Step ~ Let go of thinking in terms of absolutes such as ‘should’, ‘must’ and ‘have to’. Move into ‘could’ energy and exercise free will choice in your own highest good.
Declaration: “There is no such thing as a ‘should’, ‘must’ or ‘have to’ in my world; I now think in terms of ‘could’, allowing for my free will choice in every given moment. I have the power and the freedom to decide what is in my own highest good.”
Additional support: Listen to this 8-minute closed-eye process on identifying irrational ‘absolutes’; please refrain from driving while listening.