My entire life, I have always been a people pleaser and focused on living life and making decisions based upon what I should do. What should I do to make others happy? What should I do to get the task at hand done properly? How should I approach a situation to make everyone content with the outcome? What should I eat and when should I exercise? Shouldn’t I make more blog posts?
Should or shouldn’t all over the place.
The internal dialog with myself that was often negative.
I have added more responsibilities into my life recently and the stress of trying to figure out what I should or shouldn’t do was becoming overwhelming. One particularly crazy and busy day led me to the privilege of speaking with a customer of mine about life and stress in general. They asked me a question, “do you know the worst word in the English language?” Well, that seemed like a loaded question to say the least. I went silent as my mind raced through many options I believed could fit that answer. After a moment of my silence they answered, “should.” I think I actually laughed out loud (LoL!!). How could that possibly be the worst word ever? They said stop doing things because you should or shouldn’t and start doing things because you want the desired outcome.
I was left to ponder this thought provoking conversation and came to understand that just perhaps they were on to something. It made me think about the fact God gave us free will to make choices in life yet I felt that I had anything but free will over my choices.
Everytime I do (or don’t do) something because I tell myself I should or shouldn’t I get a little bit of resentment toward that task. I begin to complain that my life is out of my control and start to become just a bit grumpy. So, I started to change my mindset to doing things because I did or did not want to. This was not an automatic free for all to just throw caution to the wind but rather a change in my thought process.
For example, I should get some exercise today. (But, I don’t feel like it, I am tired, I just want to sit on the couch and watch TV.) I usually did not get to the exercise. Now, I talk to myself differently. I want to get some exercise today. I may be tired and it isn’t the top of my list, but I want to because I will be happy with the long and short term results.
I shouldn’t eat that second helping of pasta. (But, it’s not fair I can’t eat what I want and not gain weight. I am hungry for it. It’s my decision and my choice.) I also usually ended up eating the second helping. Now, I don’t tell myself I shouldn’t, because honestly why shouldn’t I? If I want to have a healthier body and obtain the results I desire then I will choose to pass on the extra helping. It is my choice and much easier to make.
This doesn’t apply to just eating and exercising. The principal can be applied to everything. I should go to visit my grandma. No, go visit because you will have a nice time and both enjoy yourselves. I should pay my electric bill. No, I want to have electricity so I pay for the service.
I found when deciding which tasks to say yes or no to tackle I was stopping to really make a smart decision for myself and my family and not doing everything because I should. I should sign us up for this conference on Monday and this event Tuesday and this class on Wednesday, etc.
I could think about wanting to complete the event Tuesday because it would benefit our family. And, while the events Monday and Wednesday are great events the most beneficial outcome I want for me and my family will involve saying no and staying home (or even doing something else.)
I should go to church on Sunday. Why should I? I choose to go because I want to fellowship with others and I want to worship God.
As I mentioned before, this is not an advocation of being careless or reckless. It is stopping to think about the way we dialog internally with ourselves. We must be certain we weigh the outcomes of our choices. We can just as easily make a poor choice and suffer consequences rather than positive results. In this way, doing things because we do or don’t want to (and not because we should) helps us become more responsible for our actions and choices. God gave us this amazing gift of free-will and I want to fully embrace that gift.