Archive for August 1st, 2012
Think about how ought and should are used in language. They are words that limit options and creative problem-solving. If you should do something one way, then it rules out all the other ways a thing might be accomplished. And the word, but, simply cancels out any positive content that preceded it. So rather then using the word ‘should’, let’s try using ‘preference’ instead. A preference is an individual personal response of liking/disliking one thing more than another. When you compare a ‘should’ or a ‘must’ with a ‘preference’, you immediately realize that there is a great difference in intensity. It would be better to say to yourself, “It’s inconvenient, but at least it can be fixed,” or, “I would have preferred to be on time, but being late doesn’t mean I’m a worthless person or that my life will be ruined. But there may be some consequences.” ‘Preference’ usually describes a situation in which not much is at stake. “I prefer this food over that food,” but it doesn’t really matter too much if I don’t get my ‘preference’. A ‘should’ or a ‘must’, on the other hand, is usually very important to you. And these word set the speaker up as a superior authority, “I know what is right, and you don’t.” Should’ and ‘must’ changes a disagreement between equals into one between unequals, and the question becomes, “Who’s right and who’s wrong?” “Who is in a position of superiority and power?”
From time to time, you may have had thought if you did X then a person would react in a predictable, desirable, anticipated way. I had this client to came to my office and one day she brought flowers from her garden. This client took enormous pride in her prize winning roses and spent a greater deal of care and attention to her flowers. Actually it was a suggestion we had discussed in one of her sessions, to use gardening as a source of leisure. Anyways, my client gave some flowers to the receptionist as a gesture of appreciation for all of her help with obtaining insurance coverage. My client thought bringing in some elegant ruby red roses would be seen as a considerate act of gratitude. I was delighted by this magnificent array of delicate brilliant roses, with their tender soft shiny petals. However, my secretary was allergic to the flowers and began to ferociously sneeze, and then broke out in a rash. My client was left feeling guilty and good for nothing. She had a good intention. My client thought she knew what would make others happy. I told her that she tried to predict the future. She had automatically relied on an unconscious generalization that all people like roses. My client was now hurt and felt that perhaps her judgment couldn’t be trusted. We discussed how she had done the same thing for two people and gotten two very different reactions. I was delighted and grateful for my client’s efforts but my receptionist was disgruntled and dissatisfied. So, who was justified in their reactions? Which one of us was right?
Finding peace of mind starts by accepting that you have a legitimate right to happiness. Once you have accepted that you have the right to be happy, you need to unravel some of your ‘shoulds’ and develop the aspects of yourself that you could be proud, if only you would let yourself. ‘Shoulds’ are based on a rigid perspective of how you and others are supposed to behave. Rigidity inevitably creates tension between what you expect and the way things really are. In real life, people behave in a variety of ways, and adhere to their own perspectives. You don’t have to agree with them, but seek to understand their point of view. If you can open yourself up to a more understanding, compassionate attitude, you can accept that all humans are unconditionally lovable, despite their imperfections and insecurities.
In English there is no word for a ‘preference’ that is as strong and important as a ‘should’. One of the most obvious differences is that in preference, there are always two (or more) representations. What you like more, as well as what you like less, while in ‘should’ you are usually only aware of what causes pleasure and pain. This creates an analog distinction of “more/less than,” that can vary over a range, instead of digital either/or opposites (good or bad). You have to combine words to accurately describe this experience. I have found that “strong preference,” or “very strong preference” although awkward, works reasonably well.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )