SHOULDed to the nth degree

SHOULD is a deceptive word. SHOULD is not an entirely bad word. Indeed it has the ring of being a virtuous word. However SHOULD is a word that is apt to grow tentacles. It is a word that is synonymous with obligation but it is also a word that is liable to take you places that you do not wish to go.

SHOULD can be at its most helpful when uttered lightly by a friend or a confidante. As in, “You SHOULD go for that job.” or “You SHOULD ask that person on a date.”

SHOULD grows cancerous tentacles when uttered more frequently and NOT lightly by family members and unhelpful acquaintance. As in, “You SHOULD get yourself more organised.” or “You SHOULD lose weight/save money/get married/…..” I trust you get the difference.

The most corrosive of all SHOULDS are in one’s own mind and uttered from one’s own mouth. I am currently on sick leave for at least a month. The SHOULDS that swept over me within the first few days were: clean my house, completely; get my tax returns up to date; start exercising regularly; lose weight; do useful things rather than sleeping in and watching television. And a list of smaller sundry SHOULDS.

The reason the internal SHOULDS are so corrosive is that these self exposed expectations set oneself up for failure. Three weeks into my leave I have had partial goes at most of the SHOULDS above but have completed none of them to the satisfaction of the initial SHOULD.

It was the re-discovery of this Tom On Tuesday blog about ten days ago that led to a change in my outlook. I re-discovered this blog because sometime in the last two years this blog site was hacked by some tool and my access to the site was blocked. About ten days ago I came onto the Word Press site to attempt to start another blog. I discovered that Tom On Tuesday had been unhacked, albeit that all the content had been removed. I would liken it to reformatting a hard drive. You lose all the information but at least you have control again.

So upon regaining access to Tom On Tuesday, I decided to start posting to it regularly. Of course, the inclination was to publish at least once a week on a Tuesday. I realised that with some articles in the archive, several weeks at least where I would be away from regular work and a genuine desire to write again, that perhaps I could, I might like to, commit to publishing three times a week, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It was my first new post on procrastination that firmed up my resolve.

The best part of the previous paragraph is that the word SHOULD is absent. THAT has made the difference. There is a “could” where I decided what might be possible. There was a “would” taking account of whether I had the time for the committment. The most important phrase though is ” I might like to…”. I decided to try something without the guilt, expectation and “set up to fail” certainty of a SHOULD.

Be wary of being SHOULDed to the nth degree.


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