I should have remembered
I was intently watching the car park meter slowly printing my ticket when a woman’s voice behind me said “Would you have a 5P piece?”
I said “Yes, I think I have” and checked my change and, sure enough, there I had a 5P. As she counted out the penny coins to exchange for the 5P piece she said ” I should have checked my change before I left the house!”
Almost absentmindedly I responded, as we exchange the coins “Ah, life’s full of shoulds”
She stopped, looked at the ground and in a quite thoughtful tonality said “You know, it is…” I never thought of it that way!”
We exchanged friendly waves as we, having displayed the tickets in our respective cars, headed off on our separate ways. Never to meet again, no doubt.
A life of shoulds
It was an off-the-cuff remark on my part. It wasn’t intended to be particularly profound. And yet, sometimes profundity just sort of sneaks up on you!
Because, when you think about it, many of us live lives that are, indeed, full of shoulds.
I should do this
I ought to do that
I mustn’t do that
I ought to be a better person
I shouldn’t upset people
I mustn’t be idle
I should improve myself
I should do better in my career
Most of us learn in childhood to live in a world of shoulds. And when we leave childhood we carry the attitude with us. The attitude that there is a set of rules or standards against which we will are being assessed in how we live our lives.
Unless we’re very careful this can create pressure and prevent us from relaxing and from having fun. The moment you start to relax the self talk starts I gotta do this, gotta do that, gotta do something else
In the NLP Meta Model we call these should patterns “Rules” (incidentally, the old NLP term for this pattern is Modal Operator of Necessity… That’s why here in Pegasus NLP we call it Rules.)
And in the Meta Model we encourage people (and this includes ourselves) to consider whose Rules they are and where have they come from and whether they are still relevant in the person’s life today.
Because sometimes they are.
And often they are simply the remnants of an old attitude that was never updated — people get used to living in the treadmill of shoulds.
Of course, the risk with living in a world of shoulds is that we can easily forget what we want: I want to this, I’d like to do that, etc.
So maybe, now and again, when we find ourselves thinking “I should” we could stop for a moment and ask “And what do I actually want?”