• Jenny Bell

Should is a Negative Word

Updated: Oct 4, 2019

#relationships #communication #shoulds

My husband and I have been together since we were in are earlier twenties and now we are in our late thirties. We have seen one another grow and have grown together. Marriage and all relationships are work. We must work to be conscious and conscientious of the other person and do our best to be our best. Hubby and I both grew up in situations that turned us into people-pleasers. We are both recovering people-pleasers and have been finding our own voices more and more. Along the way, I have learned one of the worst words we can say to our partner, children or friends is should.

Shoulds ruin relationships. Think about the times you have thought to yourself," I should have done that differently," it's never a good feeling. This train of thought often makes you feel guilty or bad about some choice you made. It is good for you to reflect and realize the mistake and learn from it. But more importantly to let it go and know what you should do next time. This should is something for you own conscious. It is how you learn right from wrong and how you grow. But shoulds become a negative when you put them on others. One of the worst things we can do to our friends and marital partners is to put shoulds on them.

Shoulds carry weight.

If a loved one comes to you and tells you something they did and you react with, “Well what you should have done is….” you have just made this loved one feel terrible. You have placed the should on them as if you are their conscious. People do from a place of love or fear. Love for the person or fear of the person failing. But wherever it is coming from, it is moot. This person already chose a different path, when you go back and tell them they should have done differently you are only rubbing salt in their wounds. They cannot travel back in time. You have made them feel bad for a choice that has already been made.

So what should you do if a loved one tells you they did something you think they should not have done? First, pause. Ask yourself, "do I need to share my opinion?" This is important, many of us take for granted that because we love someone we get to share our opinion about every aspect of their lives whether they ask for it or not. For the most part, most of us have no psychic abilities so when we tell someone they should have done differently we actually don’t know for sure if this is true. We do not know the final outcome of the action. If you feel you do need to help, then ask yourself "what purpose will my opinion serve?" Is it to help or is it to prove that the other person made a mistake? Intentions are everything. If your intention is to truly help then ask some questions. Ask them what they will do if x,y or z happens or backfires. This method is a way to help them prepare for the problem(s) you believe is possible.

Now of course, I am not trying to tell you what you should do, but I am suggesting some reflection and focusing on intentions. Loved ones just want you to hear them. Being a good listener is one of the best gifts you can give friend or partner. If someone asks for advice, feel free to give it but otherwise, just listen with love.

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