Don’t do something just because you “should”

Sometimes you have to do things you don’t really want to do – but sometimes you have to want to do things, too.

Doing something despite not wanting to is part of life; very often, it’s too big a part of life. Which is why I want to clear something up here: when wondering whether to do something that you’re not really looking forward to doing, feeling like you “should” do it is not a good reason to go forward.

Often, what’s behind the “should” is indeed a good reason. But you’ve got to get to that good reason. You’ve got to feel that good reason flowing in your bloodlines. “Should” by itself is a lousy reason, and passive-aggressive guilt-tripping feeds off of a person’s sense of “should,” which is made worse when the person has little idea about why they’re feeling guilty. That is why you “should never take ‘should’ for an answer.” (now that you know why, I can use the word “should” here, see? Hahaha…)

There is a difference between knowing that you should do something for definite reasons and simply feeling that you should do something. Even if you are somebody who trusts your gut often, the process of going with your gut in a situation where you feel guilty can cause you to skip the dialogue, both internal and external, that you will need in order to be free of regret and resentment.

The hollow, unsupported “should” very often gets us engaging in unworthy things – living lives that we come to feel much later that we didn’t actually choose. We’ve all seen those old folks, the way they are, at the end of their lives: there are those who are constantly cranky and regretful, wistful about the things they didn’t do, the mistakes they made, and the time they wasted. But then there are the old folks who, despite having made many mistakes, always have a twinkle in their eye; people that, however their abilities may be compromised, still seem to stay strong and inspire others. They may not always show as much open joy as you might expect from somebody who is fulfilled – but that’s often because, late in life, they have learned that just because you are happy on the inside doesn’t mean you always should show it on the outside, if you don’t feel like openly showing it. It’s ok to just feel what you feel. Wisdom has a way of teaching these little things. 🙂

Anything that taps on your sense of guilt is a flashing red light; while feelings of guilt are often there for a good reason, they can also rob you of your sense of autonomy and self if you let them habitually run you. Positive people know this; thus, though they will always lend a listening ear to their feelings of guilt, they will never let themselves become prisoner to it.

Shouldiness and guilty feelings come from a conflict between what you believe your are supposed to do [or not do] and what you actually desire to do [or not]. But the unquestioned acceptance of what one “should” do (and the feeling afterward like you were robbed of your time and decisions) comes from not even consulting what your desires really are. You’ve got to get in touch with what you really want. Somewhere beneath the guilt is a living desire or aspiration you have, with a beating heart, which cries for you to hear its existence – even you don’t know it consciously. The “should” and other guilty associations are the proof – if you were free of any desires, you wouldn’t feel that you “should” do anything!

Even if it feels unattainable or selfish to dream about, your desires need your attention. Anybody or any religion or practice that tells you that your desires are sinful or wrong can go eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as far as I’m concerned. Stop fooling yourselves, people! Even the desire not to have desires is itself a desire!

We do repress our desires a great, great deal. If you aren’t particularly rich, you can’t always go dwelling on taking a vacation in Fiji or winning the lottery and retiring from the stress of working to live – otherwise you’ll be swimming in disappointment. However, complete repression of desire (“putting it out of your mind”) is the easy way out. It also makes for a long road back – back to life, to passion, to drive, to motivation to be and do things that get you feeling like you made the best of your time and have minimal to no regret.

If you want to be a truly positive person, you can’t push that stuff away. You cannot pretend that something that exists inside you doesn’t actually exist. Every person that was ever trapped in an abusive situation and tried to run away, every nominally straight person who at some point breaks down and admits that they’re gay (or otherwise not straight), every spouse who looks for something elsewhere that they aren’t able to find in their marriage (and are prohibited from finding elsewhere) knows that inner desire doesn’t go away if you ignore it. Very often, it only gets stronger.

Some desires can be harmful; when they turn into addictions is one example. But most of the time, a latent desire is actually a calling for you to level up – to change something in your life, and blast through and find a fresh approach to life. There are many motivational videos out there on this subject, and you can easily google them. But even if a deep-seated desire is a destructive one – you’ve still got to deal with it.

So peel back the curtain of guilt and examine what your reality actually is, especially when you’re feeling such “shoulds” going against what you really want. And – most importantly – take your sweet time doing so.

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3 Responses to Don’t do something just because you “should”

  1. Pingback: Have high hope, but low expectations « Positive Juice

  2. Do you mean to say that we should not do our duty because it is our duty, but rather shirk duty in favor of our own pleasure and self-interest, at the expense of our partner, of society (large or small) or of mankind?

    • No. I am more saying here that when you have a desire, it does no good to suppress it.

      I am not saying either that you should just blindly follow all your desires. But at least look them over. Examine them. WHY are they there? There is a reason. If you don’t even listen for this reason, the feelings will still be there, in the form of a guilt that weighs down on the soul and makes one feel negative.

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