Letting Go of “Should”

People often substitute “I should” for “I want.” I call this the beginning of internal civil war. The minute you say, “I should,” you have created division within yourself. “I should” always comes from others. Parents, rules, religious teachings, and cultural norms give us our shoulds. Not that this is necessarily bad. We do need to learn how to function in society in a helpful way. At some point along the road to adulthood, though, we need to internalize those ideas or discard them for good. If you say “I should,” it means some part of you doesn’t want to. Honor those parts! They have precious information for you. Let them speak to you fully, like a good council. Hear everyone’s opinion, and then make your singular decision.

If you can say “I want,” then you are coming from a more integrated place inside yourself. Try it for a moment: “I should clean the kitchen.” Doesn’t that just tighten your stomach and make you feel as though you don’t want to? Now say “I want to clean the kitchen!” How does that feel different? When we say “I want to,” we are taking complete ownership of our situation. No excuses, no resistance, no blame.

— Susan Pease Banitt, The Trauma Toolkit, p. 8-9

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