When I hear the word “should” slip out of someone's mouth, it is a good indicator that they are not making the decision, something else is. That something else is usually some undetected voice living in their head. That voice can be parental in nature; it can be the voice of a teacher or mentor, or an "everybody knows" voice. With "should" in the mix there is little room for want, and less room for clarity. Should is born in childhood when parental opinions are strong and the default dictators of our forming belief systems.
- You should clean your room and make your bed
- You should eat your vegetables - every day and before dessert
- You should get into college or you will not succeed as an adult
- You should get married and have children with (the kind of person we say you should)
- You should always be polite and wear a smile on your face (if you don't your face will freeze like that - and that's wrong)
Then, later in life - and in business - we graduate to advanced should statements: You should expect to have to work really hard to be successful
- You should always be productive, with your eyes on the prize and your goals in front of you
- You should buy MY system because my system works for everyone!
- You should attend family gatherings because if you don't you'll break (someone's) heart
- You should be on the Social Networking sites because all successful businesses are these days...you know
A whole lot of finger wagging going on, isn't there? It's no wonder that "should" slips easily out of our mouths with little thought for "want," and often without detection. In the face of "should," one's capacity to act when faced with uncertain outcomes, to flex when presented with new information, and to otherwise be guided by what is true and correct for you is hard to access. When you do realize that you don't want to do something that is contrary to some "should," the internal dialogue can become excruciatingly loud.
What about "want?"
It should be easy (isn't that funny?) to replace "should" with "want" and answer, instead of "Should I?,""Do I want to?" But it is often not the case. If you have been putting your wants on the back burner in favor of the needs, wants and opinions of others, "want" presents some problems.
The decision to honor your "want" may mean a break with the tradition of "the tribe." Depending on your perception of the potential degree of the break, and with whom, your entire sense of security may feel as if it is being threatened. This is what makes "should" so difficult to shed.
If you are more used to acting upon what you think you should do rather than what you want to do - or not do - trust in your own guidance system is likely to be diminished. Even the simpler decisions are difficult to make. The more complex ones are torturous.
Decisions that involve children, family or employees may be the most difficult. Here, too, when something is right for you, it is right for you. When your emotional capacity is well developed, even more complex decisions become easier. Well developed emotional capacity gives you the ability to consider your wants in the equation, as well as the wants of others who may be impacted.
Some times there is no way around it. Sometimes, your wants will hurt others. When you are true to yourSelf, in the long run no one gets hurt. Do you agree, or are there times when this just isn't true (putting criminal behavior aside, of course)?
NOTE: This post is the second in a 3-part series of posts on developing Emotional Capacity, through the lens of Decision Making - Should vs. Want.
The next post ends the series with Action Ideas to Adjust the Should-Want Scales