Shoulds give away your Power
A big part of being able to consciously relate with another depends on our ability to consciously relate with ourselves. With that being said, I always watch for unconscious patterns in myself and in my clients.
I was working with a woman yesterday about how “shoulds” show up in her life. While we were talking we uncovered something powerful (or disempowering depending on how you look at it) about the word should and its affect on our lives and it impacted both of us so much that I felt drawn to share it with you today.
I asked her “What if for just one week you were to live without doing anything based on a “should”?” ….Just for fun, before we go on, ask yourself that question. How does it make you feel? What crazy stories do you tell in your head? With my client, a fear immediately arose in her that none of the important things that needed to happen for her business and her life would happen if she didn’t have any “shoulds” driving her. She felt like if she gave up her relationship with the “shoulds” in her world that she’d become lazy and never accomplish another thing! I know that at one time in my life I felt something like that too. How about you? Do you feel like if you didn’t regularly act on your “shoulds” that your life would fall apart? Or that people would think you were terrible or lazy or irresponsible?
It was as if the “shoulds” had all the power in her life and she herself had none. In one of those lightening bolt moments, I got it that as long as we have “shoulds” driving us we never have to make a choice. The “should” becomes the default or un-chosen choice. If it’s a “should”, we just do it. There is no choice at all. We give all of our power away to some unconscious rule or idea that we picked up in the past that might be completely irrelevant to the situation at hand, but we choose to live by it anyway.
I once dated a man who had let go of many of his rules, but in certain areas of life he still held strong to some of his “shoulds”. For example, he had learned that you should always walk a woman to her car. One night I was at his house and he wasn’t feeling great and was really tired. He climbed into his bed and I sat there and talked with him for a bit. As I was getting ready to leave, he said “I’ll walk you to your car” and started to get out from under the blankets. I told him to stay, that there was no reason to get up. He said my mom taught me to always walk a woman to her car. I told him that in this case it was ok to do something different… that the “should” didn’t apply in this case. He agreed finally. I found it interesting that even though it wasn’t in his best interest and there was no threat to my safety, that he was unconsciously being driven by a should from the past. When I pointed it out, he was able to make a conscious choice that supported him in that moment.
When we automatically follow the “should” we have no power. When we notice the should arising in our thoughts and then stop, pause, and take ourselves off of autopilot, we then have the opportunity to make a conscious choice. We are empowered to choose what is best for us in this moment.
Our empowerment also enables us to consciously take responsibility for our actions and what happens in our lives. Many of us would rather find blame outside ourselves – in life or another person – for the things we don’t like in our lives. If we begin to make conscious choices and eliminate unconscious drivers like “shoulds” we then have the opportunity to make conscious change. We can learn and grow from both the choices that seemed to make us feel good as well as from the choices that didn’t seem to work out so well.
So as I challenged my client yesterday, I challenge you… Can you give up the right to use “shoulds” in your life? Can you notice whenever a “should” arises in your thoughts and then consciously choose to make a choice?
Eliminate “should”. Consciously choose to choose.
If you find letting go of your “shoulds” a challenge for you, please reach out and contact me. I can help you get to the bottom of it so that you can live in a freedom that supports you to be happy, fulfilled and powerful.
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.