You should not do anything

Isn’t it amazing how the word ‘should’ is driving our behaviour? We make statements like: “I would like to stay a bit longer, but I should go now. I should call her back. I should earn more money. I should always be nice. I should give the car guard some money. I should lose some weight. I should go to the gym. I should go to church. I should invite them. I should do the dishes.” I should… I should….

Just to be clear, we are not talking about the basic stuff we all ‘should’ do for the sake of our own wellbeing, like taking responsibility, taking good care of ourselves and doing no harm to others. We are talking about those energy draining ‘should’s’ – all those things we do on a daily basis that bring us little or no joy but that we tell ourselves we should do. It is interesting to note how our energy levels drop when we force ourselves into doing our ‘`should’s’. There is always a sense of reluctance and resistance.

Why is that? Quite simply, it is because we are ignoring our own authentic voice in the matter.

Whenever we say “I should”, we can be sure that there is always a voice about that specific issue that has been programmed into our internal operating system. It is not necessarily our own truth. It is probably something that our mom, dad, teacher, or minister said. That is why it is important that, when we feel we ‘should’ do something, we question it. In this way, we can discern whether it is our own voice or whether we are merely responding to a voice from the distant past that still forms part of our system and is driving our behaviour.

We ‘should’ not necessarily respond to this voice, because – thankfully – we can now make our own choices and do things differently. So, instead of saying “I should go to the gym”, we can rephrase it as, “I choose to exercise regularly”. Instead of saying, “I should lose weight”, we can declare, “I choose to follow a healthy lifestyle”. This is an important step towards finding our own True North and marching to the beat of our own drum.

So what about all the daily chores in and around the house that simply need to be done, like cooking or doing the dishes, or putting out the bins? Yes, all of that ‘should’ be done. Sure. However, how about following a different approach? You see, we could forever resist whatever chore it is that we need to do, and make ourselves unhappy in the process, or we can consciously choose to do it. And that suddenly feels more empowering, so we are no longer feeling like a victim and feeling sorry for ourselves because now it is our choice. Our energy levels rise, and we find creative ways of even getting through those chores and tasks with joy. However, this approach only works well if we are well aligned with our own authentic self, if we are very clear on what we choose, and if we are prepared to stand our ground. If we tend to please others, the chances are good that we will end up in the guilt-riddled and energy-draining lane of ‘should’ again.

Finally, there is one important ‘should’. Whenever we feel we ‘should’ do something, we could instead ask ourselves: “Does it light up my soul?” In other words, whenever we think, “I should take that job”, or “I should hang onto that job”, or “I should enter into that relationship”, or “We should remain friends forever”, we could instead stay true to ourselves and ask ourselves: “Does it light up my soul?”