Don’t Should On Yourself

Yes, it’s that familiar twinge of guilt… the nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach, the one subject that’s going to make you procrastinate for sure. The almighty ‘Should’.

Apparently, psychologist Clayton Barbeau gave the world the oft-used ‘shoulding all over yourself’, taken to a more below-the belt conclusion by another couch potato – clearly a big Freud fan – who dubbed it ‘musterbation’.

But whatever moniker you give this feeling, if you’re anything like me, once the dread word ‘should’ enters your brain you have a sudden indescribable urge to do exactly the opposite. Or put it off for weeks, nay months, even years for the more stubborn ‘delayers’ among us.

So where does all this wonderful ‘shoulding’ come from? Is it parents, teachers, the Bible, News of the World? Ourselves? Clearly in life there are certain essentials that do need doing: the garbage ‘should’ be taken out, otherwise you risk a rat-attack. And it’s advisable to engage in regular ablutions to avoid a sad case of Billy No Mates. But nowhere is there a written law for adults who have left the parental nest that you have to do any of those things. You can jolly well please yourself.

Differentiating between what is essential and what isn’t is a matter of conjecture and totally subjective. However, if you feel you are ‘shoulding’ on various topics way past their sell-by date, it may help to take a closer look… And ask yourself the question… What am I resisting here? Do the benefits of doing this outweigh the non-benefits? Whose voice is this? Mine or someone else’s? Am I delaying because actually doing this ‘should’ thing will make me unhappy?

‘I should get a job to pay my mortgage’ is a sensible thought indeed if you are currently sans income. But if the thought of doing work you previously hated, just to support some unscrupulous bankster cartel fills you with dread, then perhaps it would be useful to look at what other work you can do. Or sell. Downsize. There are always alternatives.

A client of mine who has made tremendous progress in dealing with her inner gremlin self-limiting beliefs told me last week that she ‘should go back into teaching’. When I asked her what she had gained from having left the profession three months ago, she quickly gave me 20 brilliant reasons why she was so much happier now. She definitely should not be going back to the Bronx and class warfare.

Stop shoulding all over yourself!