Pat Greig, a psychologist in private practice, visited my MOPS (Mothers Of Pre Schoolers) group last week. She spoke on the topic of "pathological shoulds". She listed the following "shoulds" that commonly impact women:
My performance should always be perfect
I should never make mistakes
I should always be productive in the use of my time
My life should be easy and hassle free
I should always be in control over events in my life
I should be slim, youthful and attractive
I should be competent and effective in everything I do
I should be doing and achieving more than I am
I should always be totally independent
I should always be bright, positive and cheerful
I should be married or in a committed relationship
I should have a harmonious, loving supportive family
I should be a perfect parent
I should be sexy and have high libido
I should be working
I should have a high status job
I should be witty, interesting and fun to be with
I should like other people
I should have lots of friends
I should always say yes to request from others
I should never be afraid or insecure.
It is of course, perfectly legitimate to have strong preferences... but a "should" or "must" or "have to" makes us stressed, anxious, guilty, or driven. Christians can add another mountain load of "pathological religious shoulds" on top of the expectations listed.
Do you recognise any "shoulds" that impact your life... or "shoulds" that impacted your life in the past? Have you learned to deal with "pathological shoulds" in healthier ways? I'd be interested to hear from you! I'll write more on this topic soon.