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You Should Go To South Korea

I Believe You Should Take a Vacation

You Should Have Known

"Shoulding" - Lisa Martin article and John Tagg article

Should and shelves

What "should" Rick Steves do? | George Bush


It will be fun

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I have been wanting to write about this word "should" for a long time. It was about ten years ago that I first became aware of how it is used. For now I will just put a few links here and a few of my own notes.

I'd say telling someone what they "should" do or "should have done" is pretty unhelpful and it is very likely it is actually hurting them rather than helping them at all because it is likely they don't feel understood. One way it could hurt them is that there is a reason for why they aren't doing what they "should" do, and if you understood that reason, you wouldn't be telling them to do it. So they probably don't feel understood.

S. Hein

Page started Jan 2007

You Should Go To South Korea

Once I was talking to someone who I had just met. At one point they said to me "You should go to South Korea." I didn't say anything but I wondered, "When should I go? What money should I use to go there? How long should I stay there? What should I do there? Which city should I go to? Should I fly or travel by land? What should I not do so I can go there? What should I not spent my money on so I can spend it to go there and live there?"

My point is that this person didn't know me. They didn't know my values, my beliefs, my feelings, my needs, my thoughts, my goals, my talents, my resources. So how could they really know what I "should" do?

You Should Have Known

I spoke with someone who said she feels bad when her sister says things like “You should have known…” She said she begins to question and doubt herself. I could see that she wanted to try harder to please her sister, to get her approval. This is, of course, just what the sister wants.

The person who says "You should have... " wants the other person to seek their approval and do what that person wants them to. The should-er wants the should-ee to feel guilty and to try to win the approval of the should-er. If the should-ee does what the should-er wants him/her to do then it is because the should-ee feels guilty and is afraid of the should-er's disapproval and rejection.

I Believe You Should Take a Vacation

This what someone wrote to me recently.

Now let's think about it. First, here are some questions, How long of a vacation should I take? Where should I go? How much I spend? Should my partner go with me or should I go alone? Should I take my laptop? Should I answer any emails? Should I put a message on my website saying "If you are feeling suicidal please wait till I return from vacation"?

Should I do any thinking while on vacation? If so what should I think about? Should I try to get myself drunk so I can't think and instead just sleep till I wake up then start drinking again? Should I try to find some marijuana while I am on vacation and see if that helps me feel more relaxed? Should I try smoking? Should I try to distract myself, and if so with which distractions?

Since this person knows what I should do, I defintely would like them to give me some more details. In fact, I would like them to tell me what I should do for the rest of my life, minute by minute and hour by hour.

Then I won't have to think about anything at all. I will just have to do what they want me to do. But I would also like them to tell me what I should do if they get tired of telling me what to do or they die....


S. Hein

Lisa Martin article
Stop "Shoulding" on Yourself
By Lisa Martin

Have you ever counted how many times a day you say the word should? For most people I know should is one of the most commonly used words in their vocabulary. I should call so-and-so. I really should go to the gym. I should take some more courses. I should redecorate my living room. Shoulds show up all the time. And most of us aren’t even aware that they are there.

How can that be? When shoulds have been ruling your life for years they are almost invisible. Like the electricity that runs your home, shoulds can power your life. But while electricity enables you to live more comfortably; shoulds compromise your ability to live joyfully.

Shoulds get in the way. They stop you from doing what you really want --- what is important to you. Living your life based on shoulds takes you away from your true purpose. It can make you feel miserable and out of balance.

It takes effort to change “shoulding” behavior. For me what really made the difference was choosing not to go the Spa (I know, you’re wondering how can going to the Spa possibly be a should?) Let me explain. I was exhausted. I’d been on the road conducting coaching workshops. With my last workshop complete, I headed back to my hotel. It featured a guest spa area complete with gym, sauna, whirlpool, steam bath and hot stone treatments. I remember going to view the spa. Its beauty captivated me. I thought I really should come down here and take advantage of these complimentary facilities. It was like lightning had struck. As soon as the word should appeared I knew that I didn’t really want to go to the spa. I wanted to take a bath and relax in my room. And that’s what I did. It was a completely freeing experience.

If you find yourself saying you should do something. Stop and assess the situation. Ask yourself:

Why do I think I should do this? (habit, obligation, to please someone else)
What are the consequences if I don’t do it?
What do I really want to do?
Do I feel safer pursuing a should instead of a want?

These questions will help you make conscious choices. In some cases the choice may be to follow a should…for personal reasons or because the consequences are too great not to. But over time you will start saying no to your shoulds and yes to your passions.

True joy comes when you do what you're most passionate about not what you think you should do. Your passions are the things you love to do, causes you believe in, and experiences you enjoy. When you are passionate about what you do, success comes easily. You exude energy and enthusiasm when you follow your passions. And the word enthusiasm derives from the Latin en+ theos, which means “the god within.” Living your passions frees your spirit.

It’s important to ask yourself how safe or satisfying it is spending your time doing something that doesn’t reflect what you are truly passionate about. When you follow your heart, you discover what is truly nourishing to your soul and an abundant, joyful life is just around the corner.

Make Your Move

Start paying attention to when and how often you say the word should. Anytime you find yourself doing something because you feel you should, I invite you to explore why you are doing it. I challenge you to muster the courage to say no to the should and replace it with a passion. And for fun… banish the word should from your vocabulary for one week.


About the author: Lisa Martin is an executive and personal coach specializing in work/life balance for women in business. Her website is http://www.successandbalance.com

This is a copy from: positivepath.net/ideasLM3.asp

John Tagg article

Shoulding Yourself, Shoulding Others
By John Tagg

The psychologist Clayton Barbeau came up with the term "shoulding yourself" to describe this cognitive distortion. Another psychologist, Albert Ellis, calls it "musterbation." It consists of telling yourself that you have an obligation to do something different from what you are doing. Obviously, this cognitive distortion can work in your thoughts about other people too. But in either case, your automatic thought is that you or someone else should/must/ought to/has to do something.

Obviously we do have obligations. There are reasons why we should do some things and not others. But "should" statements with reasons, or that include what the consequences of doing the particular task would be, or that weigh the costs and benefits of doing something--these are not automatic thoughts; they are rational conclusions. Indeed, the first step to taming such automatic thoughts is to ask why you should do such-and-such. When you can provide a reason, the "should" becomes irrelevant. "I should be doing my homework" is an automatic thought. But "If I don't do my homework tonight, I'll have twice as much to do tomorrow" is merely a factual statement that reports the consequences of a given action.

We get into trouble shoulding ourselves when it takes the form of an automatic thought. In this form, the "should" comes to us as an abstract, universal obligation such that if we don't do what we "should" do we are wrong and feel guilty. Guilt is an important and real experience. But it is a response to moral failure. To feel guilty about our personal choices which have no long-term effects is to trivialize guilt. And that is dangerous. Guilt is an unpleasant feeling. We don't like it. We try to avoid it. And the vague, undefined sense of guilt that comes with automatic "should" thoughts is especially unpleasant. It is often accompanied by mind reading, which makes it even more painful: "I should be doing my homework and everyone will think I'm dumb if I don't."

The most frequent result of shoulding ourselves is procrastination. If I find that whenever I think about doing school work I find "should" thoughts rushing in, making me feel guilty and depressed, I will tend to mentally "change the subject" and redirect my attention to something that isn't so unpleasant. The more you "should" yourself about studying, the harder it becomes to actually spend any time studying. You never feel like it.

It's easy to see how we learned this particular cognitive distortion. Even those of us who had very kind and understanding parents found as children that the authority figures in our lives sometimes imposed obligations on us that we would not have chosen for ourselves (taking out the trash or mowing the lawn, for instance). When we went to school another authority figure, the teacher, came up with a whole new set of things that we should do not because we wanted to, but because somebody else said we should. That was necessary when we were children. But now that we are adults, there's no Mom there to nag us; so we do it to ourselves. The trouble is that it doesn't work any better for us than it did for her; nagging, even in the self-generated form of shoulding ourselves, makes us not want to do the task in question.

As adults, we are free to choose what to do and what not to do. College is not mandatory. You are perfectly free to leave it and go do something else. But whatever you choose to do, you will bear the consequences. One way to break the hold of "should" automatic thoughts is to bring the thought out in the open and substitute the word "choose" for the word "should." If you find yourself squirming with the automatic thought, "I should start my essay," change it to "I choose to start my essay." You're a free agent. It makes very little sense for you to say, "I should do this, but I choose not to." Such a statement reveals the "should" for the illogical and confusing term that it is. If you don't choose to do it, you don't really believe you should do it.

On the other hand, the idea of choice moves you closer to actually doing something. A "should" just leads to guilt; a choice leads to action. So you are wise to think about the consequences of an action, the costs versus the benefits, before committing yourself to a choice. What you choose to do, and then do, will (to some degree, at least) change the world. What you "should" do will just make you miserable.

From http://daphne.palomar.edu/jtagg/should.htm

George W. Bush

Here is something I got from CNN on Oct 23, 2007. The story is about Bush asking the US Congress for another 42 billion dollars for war expenses. Here are are two quotes from Bush:

Parts of this war are complicated, but one part is not -- and that is that America should do what it takes to support our troops and protect our people," President Bush said in an appearance with members of veterans groups at the White House.

Congress should not go home for the holidays while our troops are still waiting for the funds they need.

Who is to decide what America "should" do or what the American congressmen "should" do? Is it healthy for the world or even for the Americans to do what George Bush says someone "should" do?

What does this word "should" really mean? What does it imply? What feelings is intended to create in others?

If it is not healthy for humans to do what George Bush says they "should" do, then how does anyone decide when to do what someone else says they "should" do? Is this word really even helpful or necessary?

How might George Bush be feeling?

This is a good example of someone who tries to tell others what they "should" do when they can't (or won't) express their own feelings or explain the connection between their personal beliefs and those feelings.

What might George Bush's emotoinal needs be at this point in time?


It will be fun

Whenever my mom wants me to do something with her that I don't really want to do she'll say "oh you should though... it'll be fun" and stuff like that.

From a 12 year old in the USA


Erin was a work exchange student with me once. Here are some notes I made about her at the time.

Errin was used to being told what she "should" do. So she started feeling self-critical when she thought she "should" eat the rest of her oatmeal and that she "should" be working, not sleeping, even though she was sick. Not surprisingly, she also wanted to tell me what I should do. She said I "should" use recycled paper, for example.

Also... why didn't you.... you should have....  


grank -

Jan 9 page creation