The Confused Little Voice of Should

Oh the agony of Should.

Should tells you where to go . . . and you follow, believing this to be the right path, but then a new Should comes along, even while the old Should is hounding you.

And you wonder about this, because the other Should could be more important than what you thought was important, and all the while you're hoping to arrive at a place of Shouldlessness, but you never do, because yet another Should comes along and tells you that you are still not on the right path, and besides, you're doing things wrong, you look funny, and you'll never get where you're supposed to be.  

Should whispered yesterday that I needed to work on my short story, but my class ran late, and then I had tea with a writer, and then another writer called with questions . . . and another Should said, "Better go for a walk before the rain hits," which I did, and the writing never happened.

Today, I aimed to please Should by tackling my writing early, but Should reminded me that I needed to do my meditation practice, and so I got right on it, but an old familiar Should needled me that I haven't posted to this blog for a month, and now while writing this I'm remembering the reservations I really Should make today, and . . . .

In short, whatever I'm doing, Should is not satisfied.

We tend to believe Should when it shows up. We feel guilty until we can't stand it any longer, and then we follow Should, expecting the guilt to go away.

It doesn't.

Thing is, Should doesn't know a damn thing.

Should is as dumb as sheep.

Have you ever watched sheep in a field? One sheep stumbles on a rock and veers to the right, and then the whole mass of sheep, bleating and alarmed, all veer to the right, until one or two waddle left by pure accident, but then all the sheep think this must be the way to go, and so they stumble leftward for a while, until . . . . well, you get it. It's a useless process for getting anywhere.

Creative people have all kinds of Shoulds. For each creative dream, there's a voice telling them what to do.  

We must have courage to shepherd our Shoulds, to reprogram them, and to expect far less of them. We should never take them at face value. They can serve us as a resource, a lovely little flock, but if running the show, Good Lord, we're in for a bumbling ride.

Ponder and write about:
  • What are your prominent Shoulds right now?
  • How can you make better, more conscious choices about what is important to you?
  • How can you rein in your Shoulds and benefit from them?
  • How can you bolster yourself against obligation and guilt?

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