Deeper Perception Made Practical

Why not stop SHOULDING yourself? Begin today, if you like.

Laugh at these shoulds. Or sneeze at them. Just don't take them seriously.

Laugh at these shoulds. Or sneeze at them. Just don’t take them seriously.

In all the English language, with its million+ lexical items, what is the scariest word? It just might be should.

Recently a friend sent me a wise article that had inspired her, Bullish: Maybe Work-Life Balance Means You Should Work MORE.

Well, I couldn’t agree more with Jennifer Dziura when she wrote advice like this in her blog post:

“A lot of career-related writing targeted towards women emphasizes work-life “balance.” So you should really take some time out and nurture yourself, right?

“Actually, I’’d keep that to a minimum right now. ‘Balance’ is not for the young and sprightly,— instead, think of work-life balance over the course of your entire life.”

Fie on other people’s notions of balance!

I love how Jen demolishes that popular have-it-all myth about “balance.” She got me thinking about other conventional wisdom. And, then, conventional virtues. Like all the following shoulds.

All 10 are disposable, you know. Has believing in them been dragging down your quality of life?

1. You should like your every member of your family and enjoy spending time together.

Visiting them while you live on which planet?

Duty will be satisfied if you maintain the appropriate amount of visitation. Feel free to engage with a degree of cordiality that’s fair to you.

Is it smart and kind to send thank you letters after receiving gifts? Now that’s just good manners, a kind of civility that reflects well on you and costs you almost nothing.

Manners are a great shallow up skill! (“Shallow up” means to do ordinary human things in an ordinary human way. It’s fun. And it’s good for you.)

There are plenty of ways to behave honorably with relatives. However the conventional presumed depth of warm feelings? So optional. (Likewise any guilt over not having such feelings.)

2. You should spend major holidays with your family.

How about this instead? Appreciate them as best you can. When you do spend time together, be kind to your family, especially the ones who need you right now. But stop short of human sacrifice.

Sure visit your folks when you can do so without sulking or knotting up your stomach into a gnarly mess.

In many a session of RES Energy HEALING, I have used energetic literacy to read what was going on subconsciously with iffy behavior from family members.

Beneath the sugar coating, there was no chocolatey goodness, as with an M&M. So much of what happened was not nice at all.

Celebrations with family can be lovely. Just don’t dismiss your self-authority when you step through that relative’s door.

3. You should be happily married

Why, because the world is under-populated? Because Noah is reported to have welcomed animals into his ark only when they strode in two-by-two?

According to the most recent statistics I have found on the topic, the marriage gap has widened so far that 1 in 5 Americans has never married.

And let’s not even get started on the number of married couples who are partnered without marriage. Or divorced. Or estranged. Or living together in misery.

Your marital status, like your gender identity, is nobody else’s business. Being true to yourself matters far more than caving to social pressure.

4. You should applaud whatever your friends do, no matter what

So that’s what friends are for?

Oh, I think not.

We are talking about human friends, right? Not the animals you have trained to do stupid pet tricks. Of course those dear performers must receive their tasty snack every time.

But for humans? Humans who are supposedly your friends?

Automatic supportiveness and applause can stifle a friendship, not expand it.

My advice? Applaud automatically only if you’re cooped up with your buddy while in a spaceship.

Otherwise, if you can’t disagree with a friend, or speak out a bit of your perspective, what’s the point of that rootin’ tootin’ friendship?

5. You should be open and friendly and kind towards all strangers

Please do your best to be kind to strangers.

Please turn off your mobile phone when a cashier is working to serve you.

Please be as kind as possible towards strangers.

Because civilized life needs every gracious drop of civility we can squeeze out of ourselves, especially these days.

Only not at exorbitant personal cost.

If that cashier at Trader Joe’s creeps you out, for instance, it’s perfectly okay that you don’t prolong the interaction as though you were paying a social call to a much cherished friend. perhaps the highlight of your day.

It’s okay to keep your comments short. And no guilt required.

6. You should see at least two sides of every story

Well, yes, it can be useful to entertain multiple points of view. This can be downright entertaining. Educational, to some extent.

However you are entitled to your opinion about anything and everything. And you can form that opinion without extensive forays into every absurd point of view that other people can concoct.

In particular, I question the idea that caring people are obligated to wallow in the misery of others and learn about their side of story. As if in training to get a degree as an anthropologist whose Ph.D. is to be a thesis on The Uniquely Beautiful Culture of Misery Land.

For instance, any I the only one who is growing weary of the in-depth features on National Public Radio lately? Hour after wearying hour, these ernest folk are attempting to educate me in every possible detail of suffering that afflicts people anywhere in the world.

Hey, I’m a liberal. Not a masochist. Personally, I favor learning enough about current events to vote responsibly. And maybe even contact elected officials (state and federal) when it can make a difference.

But wallowing in misery? As if that would do anything to help anyone?

My suggestion is that you banish any sense of obligation to peer deeply into any such point-of-view stories.

7. You should forgive those who have wronged you

Forgiveness is so overrated.

Forgiveness can be a way to hand your power over to the same abusive person, repeating insult and injury.

Granted, civility is fine. Good manners are fine.

And I’ll be the first to admit that revenge and feuding are horrible choices. They may be an even bigger waste of time than seeking forgiveness.

Let’s draw a distinction between social niceties — and forgiveness on that level — versus feeling a deep responsibility to excuse or sugarcoat the behavior of people who have wronged you.

I definitely favor healing subconscious-level STUFF related to behavior when people have wronged you — like cutting cords of attachment and moving out major frozen blocks with Soul Energy Awakening Hypnosis®.

That’s internal, permanent energy healing. It has nothing to do with conscious-level attempts at forgiveness.

Certainly I can tell you for a fact that, based on my research with energetic literacy, forgiveness practices like Ho?oponopono bring about a superficial feeling of relief. And, of course, they appeal beautifully to all the shoulding we have internalized about the alleged blessings of forgiveness.

However, the aura-level consequences of Ho?oponopono are pretty darned ugly.

So are the energetic consequences of any form of ritualized lying to self.

8. You should always be positive

Far easier on your conscious mind and your aura would be living like this: Spontaneously say and do and be yourself in the moment. Just don’t get yourself fired or arrested.

9. You should eat according to the fad of the moment

For best results, feed your body. Not your ideology.

10. You should weigh 10 pounds less

Take this advice only if you are looking for a quick answer to the question, “How can I start yo-yo dieting?”

And please, please, don’t compare yourself to the stars you see on TV. For the women, extreme thinness has become a job requirement. Don’t believe for a moment that skeletal = normal.

  • Women, you are under no obligation to fulfill The Anorexic Ideal.
  • Men, you are free to develop a six-pack. Or not. This need not be a requirement for self-worth any more than sexiness.

What other shoulds have been sucking joy out of your life, Blog-Buddies?

Describe them in comments below.

Then we can have a good laugh. Maybe a sneeze.

And then let the silly things go.

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  1. 1
    Sarah says:

    This is one of my favorite topics! Yay!

    I shared one of your gems with a friend the other day: when you hear/think a “should” directed at you, try thinking back: “says who!!” It is a private, defiant game that I play all the time these days. I end up laughing a lot more, and I like laughing.

    …and fellow Blog Buddies certainly know how much easier it is for me to laugh at Shoulds #1 and #2 these days! 🙂

    One “should” you left off, somewhat common in certain New Agey circles, which -always- makes me laugh: “You should stop using the word ‘should’ so much!”

    I have never been able to contain out-loud laughter when I hear this, or even slightly subtler variations of it. Thank goodness you don’t “should” us out of our “shoulds!!”

  2. 2
    David FB says:

    Well, Rose, I’m not sure I’d agree on the blanket statement about forgiveness. Deep forgiveness can be a profound release. But I agree it’s not something you can get to by mood or concepts. Much of the new age stuff on the subject is too superficial.

    That said – all on board about Shoulds. Add Musts to that. I was quite surprised by the energetic resistance they were holding, more subtly than much of the Stuff I’d already cleared.

  3. 3

    Thanks, SARAH and DAVID FB.

    You know, DAVID, I totally agree with you that “deep forgiveness” is a profound release. And it does become more possible when there is less STUFF. Or there is spiritual expansion. Or both.

  4. 4

    What I was railing against here is, as you put it, aiming to get to forgiveness by mood or concepts.

    To use a frame of reference that we share, trying for forgiveness by copying how it seems or appears on the surface of life? That isn’t a path. It’s a goal.

    That path attempt is just as silly as aping the behavior of someone in Enlightenment in order to becomem more awake spiritually.

    Well meaning but foolish.

  5. 5
    Kylie says:

    Love this blog post, Rose. Wish I had time to write a longer response. Shoulding is a hard habit for me to break, even in enlightenment. Both shoulding of others (my daily opinions about how people should shovel their snow and drive/park their cars) and shoulding of myself (how much I expect of myself on a daily basis.) It is so freeing to let go of those shoulds, though.

  6. 6
    Zelda says:

    Great post, Rose!

    As an introvert, I’ve been aware of so many cultural shoulds, especially those related to the workplace, that I should somehow be happy to be invited to a loud, smelly, overstimulating bar as the only way to socialize with colleagues.

    I felt so many internal shoulds when some old friends visited me last year. I live in a tiny apartment in an expensive part of the country. The two of them have 2 houses and an apartment. I caught so many internal shoulds related to the size of my home and many of the lifestyle choices you mentioned in the post, Rose.

    The truth is that I like having a tiny place that’s so easy to maintain.

  7. 7
    Julie says:

    I actually get that too, Zelda, the pressure to hang out in bars. Not from my coworkers, but there is this guy who comes in to my workplace and every time, he wants to know if I’m going to a bar tonight.

    He’s like, “So, are you going to hang out in bars tonight and make a lot of noise?”

    Obviously the answer is no. But he has to ask it. I think it just surprised him to meet someone so different from himself, and maybe different from most people he knows.

    He also tells me I should drive a Lexus.

  8. 8
    Devon says:

    I especially like #7. I have always hated the concept of forgiveness. It is a very vague concept that is loaded with innuendo and connotations, especially religious connotations.

  9. 9
    Devon says:

    For #11 I would add:

    You should believe what people say unless they give you reason to disbelieve them

    I have learned over the years of my life that a staggering number of people will tell you all kinds of things that are not true or that are said with hidden motives.

    As a result, I no longer take anything anybody says seriously unless I can personally verify that what I have been told is true.

    Some people might say this is cynical or negative, but I think not giving any automatic credibility to anything I see/read/hear is practical and common sense.

    Of course, if somebody has done the work to establish good credibility with me, then I will be more inclined to take things they say seriously, but even so I still run everything through my own filter of self authority.

  10. 10
    Emily says:

    Yay! I love Jennifer Dziura!

    Some of the things I’ve made peace with are:

    I also do not like bars/clubs. Yet if my best friends of 12 years want to do a London bar crawl for their 25th birthday and I’m the only person that hasn’t cancelled on them, I will still go and have fun whichever way I can. And that only really involves the dancing and the admiring the interior design. In fact I think I managed to last the entire night while only having 1 alcoholic drink and maybe two of the free shots. LOL

    But if it isn’t your birthday… I’m not going to that bar/nightclub 🙂

  11. 11
    Emily says:


    Being friends with every single person in my workplace. I used to feel like I needed to “make an effort” and be nice/friendly to everyone. In my project we now have 16 temporary staff, with some only staying three days. I’m not even their manager. I am polite and if a conversation starts while I’m not too busy then fine, but I done doing more than my actual job role and just being myself at work.

  12. 12
    Emily says:

    Also I agree with point 1 so much.

    There’s plenty of my family members in Ireland that think I am plenty weird. The name change didn’t help 😉

    One was calling me by “[Old name]/Emil/Whatever”

    I said, it’s not Whatever, it’s my name and it’s Emily.

    We don’t really talk and I am fine with that!

  13. 13
    Emily says:

    Another “should” is that I “should” get my boyfriends family to like me.

    Never mind that most of them do like me a lot. I still felt at times that I needed to make such an effort with the more difficult family members.

    There’s one relative in particular who I’ve realised is never going to find a self-actualising woman comfortable to talk to so I concentrate on having a laugh with the other ones instead. He can pretend he doesn’t get my jokes all he likes while the rest of his family laughs and jokes with me. 🙂

  14. 14
    Zelda says:

    Oh, yes, Emily, those are good ones!

    I really enjoy the shallowing up I do at one of my workplaces. It’s become a game now.

    Paying attention to “shoulds” has been so helpful in the project I started a couple of years ago to revamp the balance of give and take in my life.

    More “shoulds”…..You should stay in a friendship that doesn’t have balanced give and take just because you have some history with the person.

    You should put up with being treated with disrespect or ripped off by an (American) insurance company or hospital because that’s just the way it is and the way they are.

  15. 15
    Tehya says:

    Oooh I so love this so post! OK, what IS with those NPR stories?!

    And Zelda, you highlighted such a good one about staying in friendships that don’t have balanced give-and-take.

    Another one: “Don’t you want kids?” Sometimes it’s just a question, sometimes it’s a thinly veiled “should.”

  16. 16
    Devon says:


    You certainly are not the only person who enjoys “shallowing up” at times.

    Being shallow can be fun! I think being shallow is underrated among “spiritual” people and other types of people such as ones who are very intellectual, serious, emotional, et cetera.

  17. 17
    Jnana says:

    BIG like!
    What a breath of fresh air!
    And enjoying everyone’s comments as well.

  18. 18

    For an update on this theme, check out this blog post from 2016:

    Awkward Relatives at Your Holiday.”

    Special thanks to Blog-Buddy LILIAN for making the connection. 🙂

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