“Shoulds” and “Musts”

The concept of “Should dos” and “Musts dos” in our lives (an idea about living a life aligned with our authentic selves). WARNING: The word should is used to excess.

The Origin of Should

Should, is how other people influence and see fit for us to live our lives. They are a set of cookie cutter expectations developed within society and driven, maintained and donned upon us like a security blanket made from cosy merino wool. From the moment we’re born the shoulds engulf us as we’re taken under the wing of our parents, family members, culture, religion, the community you grow up in or even the era you were born in. All greatly influence and mould your world view and the way you navigate through life. As we move through the phases of life we shed the shoulds that no longer apply to us as we develop our own opinions and identities. Sometimes the shoulds stay with us, sometimes we develop new shoulds or other times the shoulds completely leave us.

It’s the layering on effect of these “should dos” that are so detrimental. The suffocating effect they have on our development that stunt and limit our dreams and creativity. How many of us heard “you should choose these school subjects which should lead you to University, which should help you to get an adequately paying job” or “you should meet your potential partner (of the opposite sex of course) date for a few years which should lead to marriage and babies” these are the paths in life that should make us happy, right? Or even more subtle social nudges, should wear (the latest trends), or should buy (the newest iPhone), or should eat (veggies only or like a cave man). The point is the “should dos”  are what govern our lives immensely and are so deeply ingrained within the veins of our society and our own lives. The reality is choosing to live our lives based on what we should do is choosing to live for someone else. When you ask yourself what is my true calling in this life often you come up with an entirely different answer then what you “should” have.

So in order to have a free and fulfilling existence it is important to understand what had kept you imprisoned (doing what is expected of you or what you “should” be doing) the exact thing that was meant to help you function “successfully” in society in fact was what stopped you from realising and living your own personal truth. We each find ourselves settling into that JOB (Usually the Monday to Friday, 9-5 work day we do for the money). We move on to a CAREER (Hey it’s a step up, we get preoccupied with the fact that there is movement with the ability to progress. We get rewarded which sustains us until we get restless). Which leads us to OUR CALLING (regardless of fame and fortune, pay rises, employee of the month, or how many people tell us that’s not a viable option maybe you SHOULD just stay where you are, WE DO it anyway because it is what we’re innately compelled to do) the Must…

The must is who we truly are, what we believe, what we love, what we enjoy. It’s who we are and what we do when no one else is around and it’s just you and your creative thoughts and dreams circulating through your mind. The must is the driving force that makes all the expectations of our lives become irrelevant. When what we must do becomes unequivocally and unavoidably too important to deny. The moment conformity is overtaken by our own ideals and what we are most drawn to.

Things that stop us from choosing must over should

  • Money: Sometimes we choose to limit ourselves because we should for example keep our jobs because it pays well and allows you to keep on top of the bills, mortgage payments and eat. However there is the must have money (obviously needed to get by) and there is the nice to have money that we sometimes confuse with the must have money (bare with me). Just because something has high value like lots and lots of money doesn’t mean we need it.
  • Time: Sometimes we limit ourselves by saying I don’t have time to do it. When things settle down at work ill make time for it. When it’s not going to impact my family I’ll do it. We make time for what we want, and if you’re not prioritising what you supposedly want maybe you don’t care about it that much to begin with. (Do you know what’s most important to you? What you’re most passionate about? Sometimes this can be hard to identify because it may be something you do without realising. I spent a long time trying to identify what I love doing when I finally realised what it was it was the most obvious thing, writing! So remember you may not have to look that far to make this discovery).
  • Space: work space, a place to create, a quiet place. Often it’s hard to find a place where your must do’s can be done. Allowing yourself to be free of physical restraints opens up a world of possibilities and locations to be creative. Dedicate a space in your house, find a spot outside, on a park bench, in the library or your garage! As long as it’s your own space it’ll work, where you feel free to harness your creativity.

And it is at this point where it gets most scary. You can choose what you should do. That path looks smooth, real smooth, I see they’ve used the good cement (no little rocks in it), looks like they’ve kept the cats away too so they didn’t walk through it and leave paw prints. Safe and reliable, it’s attractive that’s for sure! Or you follow your gut, the little tingling sensation you get when you know something spectacular is about to happen, that’s your intuition. There may be no guaranteed outcome to this path, and it’s relatively unknown or maybe even nothing is known which makes absolutely anything possible.

3 thoughts on ““Shoulds” and “Musts”

  1. HA! What’s funny is people who let their lives be run by “shoulds” are the ones that “should” really read this post. 🙂

    p. s. Thanks for the follow at Self-help Health!


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