Getting Rid of the “Shoulds” That Sabotage Love and Life

Monica silently ground her teeth as she once again tried to please everyone in her family and believe that inner voice that shamed her if she didn’t.

Her thoughts ran something like this…

“I should take dinner to my mom because she’s lonely.”
“I should go with my husband to this stock car race even though I hate them.”
“I should try to search the internet for jobs for my daughter who’s been unemployed for awhile.”
“I should bake some cookies for the church bazaar even though I don’t have time.”

And on and on it went.

She often got so tangled in the “shoulds” that she ended up just going to bed and not doing any of them.

Or if she over-extended herself by doing everything she thought she had to do, she’d be angry and seethe inside, trying not to let it show.

On one particularly bad day, she decided to contact us for a conversation for some clarity, hoping for a direction to a happier, more peaceful life.

Here are some insights Monica discovered about getting rid of the “shoulds” that may help you as well if they’re ruling your life…

1. If it’s a “should,” it’s dishonest–no matter how well-meaning it is.

Many of us grow up with certain unspoken or spoken rules and expectations around how we should be and how we should act.

And we try to comply the best way we know in order to be accepted and loved.

Now not everyone complies. Some rebel and break away.

But some continue throughout their lives trying to please others to get love at the expense of themselves following these “should” rules.

As we talked, Monica realized that she had a bad case of the “shoulds” that were wearing her out and she was becoming very resentful of the people she loved.

While looking at what she wanted, she was horrified that by denying and shutting this part of herself off….

She was being dishonest even though her actions were well-meaning.

She also realized that the anger she felt when she was doing something she really didn’t want to do was hurting her relationships.

She’d been pulling herself away from those she loved without even knowing it.

2. Let go of the stories that are keeping the “shoulds” alive.

Every “should” has its roots in a story that might have some element of truth–but may not.

When Monica allowed her mind to slow down, she saw the stories she’d been carrying around that didn’t make sense as she looked with new eyes.

She had believed that if she didn’t do IT, no one would and IT had to be done…

And while that might be true, it might not be true.

Maybe what she thought she had to do never really had to be done anyway.

As we talked, she felt relief and a weight lifted off her shoulders.

She’d been carrying around a lot of responsibility and maybe she didn’t have to shoulder all of it by herself.

3. There’s always choice even though you may not see it.

As Monica looked at her stories of why she “should” do all these things…

She saw that there could be another way to look at these situations that she hadn’t considered.

-She saw that yes, she wanted to help her mom but it wasn’t always necessary that she take dinner to her every evening.

Monica could make sure her mom had food through a delivery service on the days she chose to not go.

-Monica saw that because she was dishonest in saying “yes” to going to the stock car races that she hated with her husband…

She was becoming resentful and snippy with him.

Monica decided to be honest and suggest that they do something together that they both liked instead and maybe she’d go with him once in awhile but when she chose to go instead of every weekend.

-She saw that she’d thought she HAD to find a job for her adult daughter even though Monica had never asked her if she wanted help.

Monica decided to have a conversation with her daughter and find out what kind of help she wanted–if any.

-Monica also saw that while it would contribute to the church bazaar, it wasn’t a “must” that she do so unless she truly wanted to.

Taking a close look at her “shoulds,” Monica realized that she did have choices in how she spent her time and energy that she hadn’t seen before.

She saw that by being more present and who she truly was is the best way to love the people in her life because she wasn’t so angry and resentful all the time.

If you want some help in unpacking your “shoulds” for happier relationships and life, contact us here.


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