It’s been a hectic few days. Things are not going as planned. It’s been up and down. Clients are changing dates, appointments are piling up. Friends are “helping” by saying obvious things with great authority. As my astrologer friend says, “Mercury is in retrograde.” I can’t wait for Mercury to get out of retrograde and get into the passing lane and leave me alone.
As I get grumpy, I start to add “should” to my vocabulary more and more. “I should have seen that coming.” “I should have not booked so many appointments into one day.” “I should have been more assertive.” The list goes on and on. Often, friends add to the “should” list. These shoulds fall into two categories–things that are blindingly obvious that I’ve done weeks ago or thing they wouldn’t take on themselves but will ask others to do.
In the first category, I hear, “Having trouble with that new CD player? You should read the directions first.” “Have you checked your air conditioning filter? You should do that every month, on the 1st or 15th.” That gets a secret smile. If I did all the thing I was supposed to do on the 1st or 15th of the month, I’d have to take two vacation days a month to get them done. I can store that list right next to all the original boxes I “should” keep to return defective appliances.
In the second category, I hear, “Have you gotten the check from the client yet? You should call the CEO and tell him you are going to sit in his office till he hands over the check.” This from someone who hasn’t confronted a client in 10 years. Or, “The loaf of bread grew mold? You should threaten to sue and then take a big cash settlement.” It’s a head-shaker.
“Should” is a dangerous word. Slippery. Demanding. Posturing. It turns empathy into passive-aggressive pushing and motivation into negative self-talk. Someone once said, “Stop should-ing all over yourself.” And it was Yoda who wisely counceled, “Do or don’t do. But don’t ‘try’.” The best view of all.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com Image: DC arboretum wall, photograph by Quinn McDonald. (c) 2008 All rights reserved.