Don’t should yourself.
Should is a supremely unhelpful word. More people are learning this, I think.
I’ve been unpacking should in my life for years. It’s like a plaque in the arteries of our mind, a limescale buildup in old pipes. It expands and cakes and crusts up and gunks up the works. It stops the flow of life and creativity and love. For ourselves and others.
And while sure, I know I “shouldn’t” use should – I guess a better wording is: using should doesn’t serve me – see how prevalent it is?
It isn’t a word you just cross off and replace with a happier word. You have to get to the concept of should.
Me: I should Write more.
Her: Don’t should yourself (another way of saying you shouldn’t “should on” yourself).
Okay, now I’m caught in this should corner and someone trying to be helpful just wedged another should in with me and now I’m stuck even more.
What to do?
Embrace the should.
You can’t run screaming from the room every time should comes up or you’d never stay anywhere for long. You’d be too busy running and screaming from the zombie shoulds crowding all around.
So stand still. Open up. And inquire.
I should write more. Is it true?
How do you know something should happen? Because it does. Simple. No more fleeing. Stand here now in what is real.
Are you Writing more this second? No?
Then that’s what should be happening.
Until it isn’t.
Just accept the level of writing you’re at. Now.
Another thing “I should do” does is put you in past/future. This is the land of the imagination.
Is imagination real? No. But we stay there all day. It’s a carnival of clowns and tilting floors and funhouse mirrors. Sometimes it’s fun, usually it’s not.
In past/future, we watch a film of things in the past or in a possible future.
And they are not real. How do we know? Where’s the proof? That’s how. We can’t pull it out here and point to it. It’s imaginary.
Saying I should write more takes me immediately to me not writing. Scrolling on my phone, watching a fun video or 10, even having a great run/walk.
All not now.
Then I’m not present in this moment. I’m caught – stuck – in a place I have no agency within. I can’t act on Caryn scrolling on her phone in past/future. Just like I can’t act on a character in a book.
So bombarding shoulds all over the place only fogs up the air.
I’m here now. I can write now. Or not.
But at least I’m clear about it. And I will or won’t until I do.
Knotted pencil by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
Clown by Susanne Pälmer from Pixabay