mental health · self esteem

Should Is A Life Destroying Word

He should know how to do that.
She should not have done that.
What were they thinking?! They should know better.
Well, you should have done it differently.

Should
Definition – the over-inflated expectation of the capabilities of another individual.

We say these things constantly, without thinking about it, I’m just as guilty as everyone else.

Should we be having the expectations that lead us to say things like this though?

I don’t think so. I think it’s damaging. There’s better ways to approach any situation which would “warrant” statements like those above.

What got me started with wondering about this is with my own children. My husband and I talk a lot. Our twins, C and D are… a lot to handle. We have a tendency of saying “they should know better, they’re old enough.” and a myriad of other statements that are very similar.

I think in the end, this is damaging our ability to do right by our twins. We expect them to be able to do certain things, and when they don’t we get upset. It’s not just the twins though. We also have this problem with the oldest two. They should know how to do this, or they should know not to do this, because they are more than old enough. We’ve said this amongst ourselves, and we’ve said this to them, but… how does that make them feel?

When someone tells me that I should know how to do something, when I don’t know how to, or I do know how but didn’t do it correct, or anything else, it makes me feel bad. It doesn’t feel constructive and it feels like someone is just stomping me into the ground. There is no should.

I was told a long time ago “Don’t paint a portrait of the person you want to know, that’s not for you to do. Let them be a blank canvas for you, and let them paint their own picture for you to see.”

Should sets up the idea of a pre-conceived picture that you paint of what a person is or isn’t, should or should not be able to do. If you take away “should”, then you stop painting the picture for someone. You allow them to take hold of the brush, and paint the beautiful art that truly is them. Not the hollow facade that you try to create.

Each person is different. What one person knows at one age, another may have no notion of. What one person tends to do sets no precedent for what another will do. Just because it comes easy to you doesn’t mean it comes easy to anyone else.

Stop expecting things from people, stop “shoulding” people. Let them be who they are, and not who you think the should be. We all need to work on this. It’s a poison to one’s self-esteem and it only makes any relationship harder.

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