How many times have you heard people around you telling you that “you MUST” do this, or you MUST do that, or you should, or you ought to do whatever? Or even speaking about themselves and saying: “I must do this or that”.
In the end, after hearing these words so many times in our surroundings while we grow up, and later after we move away from home and get to school or to a job, we start to believe that we really must do a lot of things. And we start using the words ourselves and we tell them to the people around us, and in this way, we contribute to spreading the must culture around us. We teach it to our children too. These words are inherited from our family, and the various communities and cultures we grow up in.
I have good news: there is nothing we MUST. And there is nothing we SHOULD.
If you take a moment and think of all the things you did and still do in your life because you MUST, or because you SHOULD, how many of those did you really HAD TO do, or MUST do?
There is always a matter of choice. We always have a choice in every situation. The issue that shows up is that of consequence. Because each choice we make will have a different consequence.
In the end, it is a matter of pros and cons for each choice we make. There is like a constant negotiation with ourselves and others.
If we think that in some situations, we really don’t have a choice, we still do. Because most of the situations we consider as being without a choice are those in which we may die.
And when I say “DIE” I do not only refer to the physical death of the body.
There are several ways one person can die.
- The feelings of shame and guilt in an embarrassing situation can feel as strong as death like the world has crushed or the earth has split and swallowed us.
- Bankruptcy: someone can die on the market by getting bankrupt. The feeling can be just as strong and painful.
- Broken hearts can feel extensively painful; therefore, it can feel like dying.
- Losing a job – shame of being without a job
- Losing family members – emptiness in the heart
- Moving to another place. The life before has died, even if one returns to the old places, it will never be the same.
- Failure, no matter in what area of life
And I am sure there are even more situations that can feel like dying. To avoid all those feelings, we make choices and then we say we must, or we had to. We didn’t have to, but it felt like that because we wanted to avoid a painful feeling.
Physical death is the only thing that we probably must do because history has shown that living beings die, eventually, sooner or later. At the same time, we can still choose when that is happening in situations where we think that we have no choice. We have no choice because we decide to choose life.
I like to think in terms of our brain as a computer, and the language and the words we use, the software in the computer. It is just that from this computer it is more difficult to “delete” such powerful words like must and should, and reinstall new “software”, as I choose, or I prefer, or it may be wise, it may be better, or I have a suggestion.
It takes some work and some awareness over the way the software of words is going through our brain.
It is not always easy to be aware of all the words we are thinking and all the words we are saying, especially when we think about 50 to 60 000 words each day. At the same time, it is not impossible to become aware of small fragments from that huge quantity of words and make an attempt to change that software.
I would like to suggest an exercise:
Think of a situation or a thing that you MUST do.
Say out loud: “I must do…..”.
Take a deep breath and then repeat the same thing, and change the word “must” with “I want to”, or “I choose to”.
Repeat both versions of that sentence and notice how do you feel in your body when you say each of them.
Do you notice any difference?
How does your body feel when you say I must vs I want to/I choose to?
Do let me know and enjoy the choices you make in your life.
Remember, there is nothing you MUST!
In case this article had awakened thoughts that may need to be sorted out, please leave a comment, or let me know in confidence and feel free to register for a free session here. A lot can be sorted out in ONE good conversation.
I wish you build resilience!