Should is a Four Letter Word
I was talking to my son earlier today. He was having a hard time accepting the reality of virtual school. He just kept saying “we should be able to go to school. I should be able to see my friends at school.” It was breaking my heart, so I just had to sit down with him and have a discussion about the word ‘should’.
In my coaching practice and in my life ‘should is a red flag word. I used to should myself all the time. I could sit and ponder all the ways that life ‘should’ be, but wasn’t. It was absolutely exhausting!!
Denial is Exhausting
At work, everything would eat my lunch! Anytime management would come out with something new…I would pick it apart and analyze it for all it’s flaws. I was constantly ‘shoulding’ ALL over myself. I would sit with my co-workers and impart my exhausting wisdom every chance I got. It wasn’t until I I owned my own business that I realized how difficult it is to make a change in processes. How it takes a lot to make the decision to change. A decision that is based on things that I couldn’t possibly known before I got there. I started to have compassion for my previous managers and leadership. I started to shift my perspective.
Even If You Don't Know Why...
This was the discussion that I had with my son. It is so hard to comprehend when you aren’t privy to all the reasons of why decisions are made the way they are made. However, I was able to explain to him some basic tenants of life. One of the constants of life is change! I urged him to do what I had to do and that was shift perspective. A second is that at some point you have to accept reality. I explained to him that there are always reasons behind the situation and whether or not you know what they are…it is happening. You can either get on board or just be exhausted ‘shoulding’ yourself.
Critical Things for the Shift
A few things that are critical to this shift, in perspective, are compassion, critical thinking, and acceptance. I urged him to have compassion for everyone involved in the ‘should’ situation. Everyone is in the same boat of trying to get on board with the situation. Then, I urged him to do some critical thinking. I asked him “what are the facts of the situation” because that is reality and is all you need to focus on…don’t exhaust yourself with the conjecture and speculation of the ‘shoulds’. So, once you know the change, you know it is reality…it is time to accept it. Acceptance doesn’t mean you like it, but you move along smartly to absorb the change into your life. Once you get to acceptance the phrase ‘it is what it is’ isn’t nearly as annoying.
Don't Be a Doormat
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting anyone should be a doormat or just roll over. There are almost always channels to submit your good ideas through to make management or the powers that be aware of your concerns. If they accept it great and you made it better. If they don’t then that is the reality of the situation. Again, it is time to get on board or exhaust yourself with the ‘shoulds’.
Get Peace of Mind
One of the best benefits I have realized when I stop ‘shoulding’ myself…is peace of mind. It really slows my brain down and stops the spinning in my mind of trying to make things different than reality. The second benefit of accepting reality is that it frees up my mind to focus on things that I really can affect. I can focus on the important things in my life that I need to figure out. A third benefit is that I am generally happier in my daily life when I am not ‘shoulding’ myself. It frees up my mind to focus on the joys of life. So, I realized that he benefits of not ‘shoulding’ myself are great enough that I was willing to shift my perspective from ‘should’ to acceptance of reality.
Do you think it is hard to stop ‘shoulding’ ourselves? Have you ever had a situation in your life or work where the ‘shoulding’ was exhausting? What did you do to shift out of it?