Should and Supposed to
I recently wrote this for the Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine.
Whether in my role as a therapist, friend, business associate, or family member, I’ve been lucky to meet and associate with a wide assortment of personalities in Utah County and around the world. Though we may have different backgrounds and stories, I’ve noticed a troubling commonality that impacts most of us. We unknowingly send ourselves a subtle and potentially dangerous message – that of should and supposed to.
We tell ourselves, I should be nicer to my kids or I’m supposed to serve and help others. Many of us experience shame as we struggle with feeling that we should be doing more. It’s easy to feel like we are bad if we don’t measure up to the shoulds and supposed tos in our lives.
As a therapist, I often teach my clients to let go of this attitude by replacing should with want to. This helps us live a life we choose rather than one which is chosen for us. Helping another person because we want to feels different than helping them because we are supposed to. I counsel many to consider this idea: If you don’t want to do it then don’t do it.
What if, however, we don’t want to do something, but we still feel that it is healthy to do? Does this mean we don’t drive our kids to and from activities because we don’t want to? No! Our children can’t drive themselves. When facing tasks we don’t want to do that must be done, let’s embrace an attitude of wanting to want to.
The next time we hear ourselves say I should or I’m supposed to, let’s pause, take a step back and refocus on doing things because we want to do them, not because we feel obligated and forced.
I love that we can turn shoulds into want tos – let’s choose the life we live.
Dr. Triston Morgan
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Executive Editor – Utah Valley Health and Wellness