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Shoulding Part Two

Updated: Apr 30

I can’t help myself. 


Once I started writing about shoulding last week, I knew there was more.


Shoulding on yourself, yes, is one way, but shoulding others is another. (Let's not do the visual on that one, ok?)


You can do it to partners, kids, family, friends, jobs, coworkers, etc.  Basically anyone outside of yourself.


He should be more affectionate.

They should clean their rooms.

She should call me more.

They should pay me more.

He should be home on time.

This shouldn’t cost so much.

She should figure out a way to make it work.

They should try harder.

He should want to take care of the kids.

Work should give us the day off.


Whenever we think someone else should do something or behave a certain way and they aren’t, we think it’s their fault for making us feel a certain way. 


They should know, right?


How often do you say a version of these shoulds and feel annoyed, irritated, aggravated, frustrated or down right angry?


Typically, that person has no clue we have explicit expectations for how we want them to behave.  We also think it’s a sign of love for someone to read our minds.


We call this having a Manual.


It’s an instruction guide for another person and if they follow it, we can feel good and be happy.


But what happens when they don’t? 

We put our emotions in the hands of someone else.  Their behavior determines how we feel.


What if we dropped these manuals and let people be who they are and we get to be who we are? 


What if we took responsibility for how we feel regardless of other people’s behavior?


I love my mom, but she never calls me and I think she should.  It has annoyed me that I’m the one that initiates our conversations.  I make it mean she doesn’t care enough to call me. I’ve had hurt feelings and believed that she is the cause.


If I simply dropped this expectation, her calling or not calling doesn’t determine my feelings about it, I do.


These days I call her.  She picks up and we talk.  And connect and catch up. And at the end of the day, that’s what I really want.


So next time you find yourself feeling something negative about another person, think about what’s in your Manual for them. 


It could be a list of shoulds.


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