The Crossroads of Must and Should
Elle Luna on finding and following your passion
How many times a day do you hear the word should? Is it said by you or to you? How does it make you feel?
Elle Luna is an artist whose life took a turn when she honoured her dreams. I’m talking her literal dreams. She came to see how the word ‘should’ was deeply unhelpful.
There are two paths in life: should and must. We arrive at this crossroads over and over again. And every day, we get to choose.
Should is how other people want us to live our lives. It’s all of the expectations that others layer upon us. Sometimes, Shoulds are small, seemingly innocuous, and easily accommodated. “You should listen to that song,” for example. At other times, Shoulds are highly influential systems of thought that pressure and, at their most destructive, coerce us to live our lives differently. We choose Should, we’re choosing to live our life for someone or something other than ourselves.
If you’re ready to get to know your Shoulds, grab a piece of paper and make a list of the Shoulds you hold on to by completing these sentences:
You should never
You should always
You should know better than to
You should not
When you examine the Shoulds of your life, you are consciously choosing to get to know the expectations from other people’s agendas, the belief systems you inhabit and don’t truly embrace, and all the things you agreed to without realizing it. Shining a light on your list of Shoulds may involve facing some of your deepest fears, and finding support is wise.
– Elle Luna, artist
What can you let go of now you’ve tuned into your shoulds? How often are you doing the shoulding towards others?
When my mum died many people told me what to do and made assumptions about how I was coping. ‘Should’ featured in many (well-intentioned) exchanges and often left me feeling bad about myself. I’ve come to realise when others use the word ‘should’ it tends to be a projection of their own shadow stuff. Now I’m more conscious of my own use of it when in conversation with others.
When it comes to my self-talk I try to avoid this word because it can seem so negative. What’s wrong with me if I should be doing x and I don’t or can’t or I am trying but it’s not good enough? I should try harder, do better, be more. Perhaps I should x less.
Read the full article here.