A Case for 'The Shoulds'
Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 12:02PM
Essrea Cherin in Inner-peace, Should, peacemaking, self-acceptance, self-acknowledgement

I am aware, as you may be too, of the conventional wisdom that encourages us to “Stop shoulding on ourselves”, and do not disagree with the premise, either. However, before you react so quickly to 'the shoulds' and chase them away with a figurative broom stick, I would like to invite you to pause just a moment and, once again figuratively, invite them in for a cup of tea.

To Should or Not to Should: That is the Question

How is it that we must both stop ‘Shoulding' and that 'shoulds' are worth two seconds of our time?  Allow me to explain....

'Shoulds' play a valuable role: they shine a light on those aspects of ourselves that we refuse to accept as worthy, valuable, or in any way contributing anything positive to who we like to see ourselves as, or who we want to be in the world.  When we 'Should' we are coaching ourselves to be the person we want to be.  Not the person we are, but the person we want others to think we are.

This causes great dissonance within ourselves.  Part of ourselves will object, "But, but, what about me?  I LIKE being lazy!" or, "Hey, I don't care if my clothes match."  The 'shoulds' directed at these aspects of ourselves essentially tell them to “be quiet and go along with the program; this program requires matching clothes!”  

As Within, So Without

In addition to the interior friction that emerges between aspects of ourselves, you will notice that the same discord ends up manifesting in our interactions with others.  We might find ourselves judging others critically for their poorly matched outfits, or laying around watching what appears to be endless hours of television or YouTube videos.  The friction within gets its chance to be on the big stage when acted out in relationships with others.  

The Vital Role

This is where ‘Shoulds’ play a vital role and ought to be honored as such.  Every should arises from a place within ourselves that we have yet to make peace with and is desperate for both acceptance and acknowledgement.  In fact, this part of ourselves wants you to admit that he/she is there AND is just as valid and helpful as all the other parts.  Until you do, the discord will reign within and without, and the constant stream of ‘Shoulds’ will float across your mind as you ‘watch’ yourself go about your day.

Next time you hear one of these ‘Shoulds’ cross your mind, grab it — give gratitude to yourself for bringing this to your attention….then ask yourself, ‘What am I pushing away and not accepting about myself?”  Give yourself a moment to do an honest assessment — there is a part that is in need of appreciation.  Once you have discerned what you are desiring to disown, you can ask it what it offers, what is it bringing, exactly?  When you approach in this manner, seeking understanding rather than reproach, you will find an incredible ease of the inner-tension that had been present, allowing this aspect a chance to explain him/herself.  Knowing that there are no parts of yourself that do not have your best interests at heart, you can give it appreciation for what it brings you, and let it know how important and welcome it is in the constellation of all that is you.

Then, wait patiently for the next ‘Should’ to come along.  Each and every one of these ‘Shoulds’ gives you an opportunity to make peace within yourself; and in so doing, you will simultaneously be making peace with others in your world.

Article originally appeared on Conflict Resolution and Management: Coaching Clients to Harmonious Results (http://www.embracingconflict.com/).
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