Why The Word Should Builds Anxiety and Conflict
Why does should cause anxiety? Should is a word you say when you don’t want to do something. When you tell someone else they ‘should do something, you are putting your judgment upon them. And if you tell yourself you should’ve done something, you are putting judgment on yourself.
It is not enjoyable to think about the word ‘should’ as it causes stress and tension. So instead, maybe ask yourself, “What do I want?” or “What do I prefer?” The word ‘should’ creates inner self-judgment. It can overpower your true desires and bully you into doing something you do not want to do. This bullying can lead to depression and anxiety, eventually leading to reduced productivity in the future. It’s important to remember that we’re all imperfect beings with flaws and failures, and absolute perfection is a myth. You’re already uniquely perfect just the way you are, so why would you want to be a different perfect? Why tell yourself you ‘should do something or be someone you don’t want to be? If you want to do something, do it and feel the joy you get from that freedom.
We all have different personalities, and we all enjoy different things. What one person likes may be right for them but not for another person. Don’t try to change someone’s personality. Why would you try to change your personality to please others when you can be yourself? In reality, other people would like you more for it. Why are most of the population anxious and depressed? It’s because we try so hard to be someone we aren’t. When someone tries hard to be something they’re not, they become a hypocrite. If others point that out to them, they say that person “should just stop being so sensitive.” This accusation can lead to more anxiety.
The Word Should Diminishes Your Power
When you criticize someone, you can see them change to agree with your way of thinking. However, they will never be who they genuinely are when they do this for you. Why would you want them to become something they’re not? They may be different from what you enjoy, but that’s okay because we’re all different and unique. Their difference is magnificent. If not, why are they still in your life?
In addition to anxiety, this word may cause you to do something that is not authentic for you. For example, you don’t tell yourself you should go shopping. If you want to go shopping, then just do it. When you don’t want to go shopping, that’s okay too. If you didn’t do it, you didn’t do anything wrong. No judge will punish you for that. If you stop saying “I should” to yourself, you will gain because doing things for yourself instead of forcing yourself to do things will help make your life better. Then you’ll also feel much better about yourself.
How do you feel when you tell yourself that you should do something? You feel pressured, and it’s exhausting to think about it. How do you feel when you want to say ‘no,’ but you know if you do, someone will say that what you did was wrong? It’s a no-win situation. But think about how good you will feel when you do something for yourself instead of for everyone else, like going shopping. The word ‘should’ is very controlling and can lead to someone being a doormat.
If someone does something you don’t like, just say, “Hey, that’s not my thing, but it doesn’t hurt me, so I’ll let it be.” When they don’t want to change their habits, then that’s okay because they’re happy with them. If no one else brings up the issue, then what does it matter to you? It’s bullying if you bring this behavior up unless they bring it up first or if they have asked you to point it out to them beforehand. If they don’t ask themselves about it, why would you expect them to want you to bring it up?
If you want to find out what’s going on in someone else’s mind, just look at the way they work. How do they work? We all have flaws, and we all make mistakes. A better way to speak is by saying “I prefer” or “I’d like.” Just get the facts straight before you tell someone they’re doing something wrong. Be careful because this is a sensitive subject that can lead to frustration, arguments, anger, and even violence.
If someone says they don’t like how they do something but are still doing what they were doing, leave them alone. Until that person asks, they are comfortable with their actions.
It’s unlikely that you want to be not proactive, and you don’t want to be a doormat. Instead of trying to control another person’s behavior, be selfish and ask yourself, “What do I want?” or “What do I prefer?” and leave them to do what they want.
When someone tells you that you should not do something, why would you want to listen to them? If no one else tells you that this is not good for you, why would you want to change? It may be suitable for them, but not for you.
Instead, do what you feel will give you power, not what will give others power. This inner voice of desire tells you to get out of your ‘safety box’ and do something for yourself, not for others unless this action serves you.
Focus on You
Be yourself, and don’t waste your time trying to change someone else. If you don’t like something, then why would you force yourself to try to do it? When you tell yourself that you should’ve done something and are putting judgment on yourself, this is your Ego punishing you for escaping your ‘safety box’ of its control. Your Ego is the number one control mechanism in your psyche.
When you are true to yourself, you can find out what makes you happy and be what kind of person you want to be. If you force yourself to be anything else, this could mean ending your life as someone free.
Ego Driven To Obey
A question you may want to ask yourself is, ‘Why does my Ego punish me for escaping my safety box?’
Here, I want you to analyze where we live in our psyche, within our Ego. What is our Ego? When we’re kids, the first thing we do is learn how to tell what’s in front of us and accept it as truth. We teach ourselves what is right and wrong through others. This acceptance is because children are the best students. After all, they don’t know better. In other words, they’re open-minded and innocent and don’t have an exaggerated sense of self-importance yet.
If you were to put another child in the same situation, they would have a different viewpoint than you do or behave very differently. For example, if I put another child in my place and tell him the right way is how I do things, he may feel brow-beaten and tell me I’m wrong. But when you’re young, you don’t know better. You learn what’s right or wrong by accepting your caregivers’ dominant opinions on how everyone and everything should behave. This childhood learned pattern is a powerful driver in survival.
When we’re young and learn the right or wrong way to do things, we gain our lifelong instructions. These instructions form the basis of how our Ego is born, from being told when something is right or wrong, good or bad.
You base everything you’ve learned about right and wrong on what other people think. Your thought processes are what you have heard of as right and wrong from others, not because it makes sense. Therefore, your number one control mechanism in your psyche is called the Ego. The Ego is a collection of the strongest opinions you learned as a child.
What's Right And Wrong
You have only one strong opinion, that of right and wrong. If told that something is right, then this means it’s good, and if told something is wrong, then this means it’s bad. Right or wrong is only a thought process, but our Ego convinces us that there must be an absolute right or wrong when in reality, there isn’t. As Spinoza states in The Ethics, the only right and wrong is “nothing but an affect of joy or sadness, insofar as we are conscious of it.” He means that when we do something right, we are doing something that increases our power. When we do something wrong, we do something that diminishes our power.
As adults, we form our own desires and opinions of right and wrong. When our Ego is strong, we care what other people think or believe because our survival depends on it. As you look at all the advice you’ve been given over the years and really see it, you understand that this idea is based on others’ opinions. And this is when you’ll realize just how wrong most of it is.
The funny thing about this ego control process is that it becomes almost impossible for anyone else to tell us what’s right and wrong, good or bad, true or false, once it’s in place. Overriding this programming is exceedingly tricky, but it is possible if we want to.
Life Without 'Should'
We could go into the concept that we have to accept whatever the world has handed down to us as ‘the truth,’ and then our thinking would follow suit. But this is not the solution. Your truth always depends on you because you’re the one who thinks about it and creates its reality through your thoughts. You’ll encounter many people saying things that sound good or bad, but this is just their interpretation of those issues.
Everyone’s opinion is correct – for them, at whatever level of understanding they have achieved for themselves. That’s why you cannot try to impose your interpretation on others because it will be right for you but not suitable for them. The reason for this is that their understanding is simply different. It doesn’t mean that one of you is wrong or right. But it does mean that your understanding levels are different, and the words have a different meaning for you. What matters is doing what is right for you, not what you should do because it’s right for someone else.
One way to look at the world is to understand that whatever happens in the outside world is just a reflection or representation of what’s going on inside us.
Envy and Advantage over Equals
Envy and advantage are core to our nature. Failed experiments in envy are easy to see. We only envy and try to seek an advantage over those to whom we feel equal. If you feel somebody is superior or inferior, you do not bother, because you are certain of winning or losing the battle.
Envy is Feeling Disempowered
We pitch ourselves against our equals and try to dis-empower them in order to increase our own power and advantage.
For example, you learn of a new person and believe they are superior to you. You admire their qualities and want to be like them, but on meeting them, the reality of the individual hits you and they fall rapidly off their pedestal. They are not what you thought they were.
When your stories about people are false
When you didn’t know a person, you made up a story about them in your imagination and expected them to live up to this story, which they could not do because they are not that person in your imagination. You cannot possibly know anything about that person, so you created an imaginary piece for the puzzle that you have created in your mind for them and fit that into the gap in your knowledge. This piece fit the space but did not fit the picture.
Imagination creates a fake reality, but when observations come from experience, they become real and can be clearly and distinctly be observed through your interaction with them.
This also holds true of places, jobs, and many other things. Until we experience it, we cannot possibly know it and because we cannot know it, we cannot judge it.
So, envy, hatred and admiration are simply inadequate passions that stir up your thoughts and emotions and create reactions of anticipation in your body.
What if you were able to drop needing to create a complete picture of someone? What if you could simply let the experience provide you with the missing pieces? In this work, we do that.
Your advantage is having no preconceptions and therefore not being mistaken. Your imagination affects your sense of self-worth, pride and a host of other things that cripple your self-esteem. So, don’t do it.
Envy and advantage are not related and when you realize they don’t depend on each other, you can be free of envy.
Most people choose a self-help path to get away from some pain. We are all affected by emotional distress of one kind or another. Maybe sadness, depression, fear, anger. Any of the relatively long list of things that can affect us as human beings. Now, what is usually peddled in various movements that erupt to address these issues, and what is lacking, is understanding. What is offered is essentially some technique. These methods are, in the main, calming techniques. For instance, learning to take deep breaths when anxious. And of course, that’s useful, but it’s not going to help you get to the bottom of the anxiety. You’re going to be taking deep breaths for the rest of your life because it’s just like a drug. You are in effect just using a natural medicine that your body can produce of its own accord through taking deep breaths. Now, it is curious that understanding is missing in most spiritual methods because it is the key to our freedom and liberation.
What’s the Difference?
Knowledge, being and understanding are all different. Knowledge on its own is nothing; it’s just something that you push into your memory and chew around in your impressionable mind. This is the apparatus that you develop during life to handle concepts and words and language and images. It’s effectively just like a machine that can process symbols and words and pictures. Understanding is something wholly different. Understanding comes from direct experience. There is no way you can get understanding if somehow you are not able to experience what needs to be understood. There’s the old saying, that if you want to learn, then you must do something. You must do that very thing that you want to learn. So, someone who is a carpenter will not become a carpenter by reading books about carpentry. They become a carpenter by doing it, and as such, they gain an understanding of the nature of the material they’re working with. They learn about wood, the tools used, and the little tricks and techniques that they use to make the thing work. Things that you would never pick up just by reading about something. True understanding comes from living it.
The thing that often frustrates various schools is a lack of understanding. There was a great deal of work in the sense of evoking emotions and techniques to go within oneself, but very little in the way of understanding how these emotions arose and seeing them. In seeing the situation in which they would occur, and understand why those emotions are as they are. Once you know that, you can gain freedom. I’ve found this in my own practical experience, and I’ve seen that there’s no substitute for real-life work on oneself, in the sense of observing what’s going on and understanding what’s going on. Observation is not enough on its own. Self-Observation is a beautiful thing; it allows us to see what’s going on. But if there’s no understanding of why a particular state has arisen, then there’s no moving forward. I’ll give you an example here.
Our primary driver, our animal driver, is our need to survive, and the emotions are a legacy if you like from our animal origins. Emotions are essentially instant responses to situations. These immediate responses mean that an animal can respond to a situation in an instant. It doesn’t have to think and evaluate; it just knows how to respond immediately. So, if it’s in danger, it will flee. It doesn’t think about it; it doesn’t try and reason. If it sees a predator, then it will just escape. If it considers some food that looks like it might be suitable, then it will go and eat. The sense of hunger will, or the feeling of desire for food will make it go and eat. It doesn’t have to think about these things. And so, it is with human beings. Emotions like jealousy and envy and hatred and anger, there’s a long list of them, are instant responses to situations. The primary driver for us, the animal driver, is our need to survive and the emotions derive immediately from that. When situations occur where our survival prospects are enhanced, then we feel pleasure. When we’ve just eaten, if we win a prize, say some money, if we get recognition – all those kinds of things make us feel that our survival is more assured.
On the other hand, if our survival is threatened, then we experience negative emotions. Now, this thing of our survival being threatened doesn’t have to be ‘oh my god in the next five minutes I’m going to die.’ It’s merely the feeling of a diminishing of power.
Understanding the Understanding
So, to recap, knowledge is nothing. It’s just stuff you hold in your head. It’s like you’re a computer and it has no bearing or weight when we’re considering how we feel about ourselves and what we are. Understanding is tied to being and related to experience. Understanding and being go together. So, you might want to investigate understanding. It’s nowhere near as sexy as enlightenment or cosmic consciousness or any of these things that the enlightenment gurus are touting. But it’s more real, the benefits are more robust, and it’s a way to progress in your move towards peace, towards happiness.
For more on the philosophy of understanding see Martin Butler’s website
Conditioned to Conform
We are conditioned to conform and be good members of society. But at what cost? The true cost of fitting in is to contort ourselves in so many ways that eventually become unbearable and the prison we’re in has to break. When this happens we’re usually at a loss and keep turning in circles, ending up at the same point where we started. With understanding about suffering, what causes us pain and what causes us pleasure, we’re able to work through it and achieve peace.
Families are a strong source of conditioning. Everyone in a family feels that their needs have to be met. Though they’re not listening to one another so no one’s needs are met. They talk behind each other’s backs and each family member has a fixed expectation. Once cast in a role, it’s almost impossible to escape. It can be very painful when your needs are not met and there are constant demands made of you.
Why Negotiation is vital
Negotiating your needs is very tricky. People are used to you in your role, they don’t want to make changes. If that’s OK with you, then stay as you are.
Alternatively, there is a way to deal with improving your situation and having your needs met. Like anything worth having, this means effort on your part. You can’t magic up a hero who will do it all for you – you are that hero!
Start by letting others know that you’re not OK with the way things are. Let them know what your needs are. Communicate simple needs at first, because any need will be seen as a challenge. Once you get that need met, allow others to get used to your new position before attempting to make other changes. If they will not listen or think things are OK as they are – that’s because they are – for them, not for you. This is when you realize that there is no one other than you who is going to improve things for you.
Let’s get your needs met!