The Tyranny of the Shoulds (Emily)

Personality theorist Karen Horney believed that people carry around beliefs regarding what they should or should not be. She called this the tyranny of the shoulds. The shoulds fall somewhere between perfection and self-hatred. These shoulds "prevent an individual's potential from being actualized." Should-ing is partly due to what we think others should grant us and partially on what we think we should do ourselves. The inability to meet these shoulds leads to depression or anger.

I should do my homework. I should enjoy my homework. I should want to go to school. I should cook meals every night. I should always do my hair. I should make my bed every morning. I should remember to check the mail. I should love work. I should eat healthier. I should take a test before the last day it is available. I should stop being so emotional. I should work out more. I should write more letters. I should stop saying things that make people hate me. I should be a better sister. I should be able to get up for church easier. I should plan ahead. I should buy more fruit. I should eat the fruit I buy before it goes bad. I should never be late. I should always pay attention. I should want to read my scriptures. I should want to pray. I should stop running events over and over in my mind. I should only read meaningful books. I should stop thinking mean things about people. I should be more comfortable with babies. I should stop watching excessive amounts of House. I should vacuum more. I should do my laundry. I should dress warmer. I should know more words. I should stop letting my feelings about people show on my face. I should be a better wife. I should be smarter. I should be happier. I should be more awake. I should call my mom. I should treat people better. I should have five kids. I should hand out Books of Mormon to strangers. I should like everyone. I should never make mistakes. I should think about other's needs first. I should always make the right decisions. I should stop comparing myself to everyone. I should be better than everyone. I should be the same as everyone. I should be different. I should feel confident. I should be humble. I should always be successful. I should do research so I can get a job. I should have a social life. I should stop being uncontrollably obsessed with murder mysteries. I should always feel enthusiastic. I should stop beating myself up. I should be friendly in an unstalkerish way. I should stop making up words. I should stop competing. I should love everyone. I should never give up. I should take a break. I should kiss my husband. I should live with my husband. I should be very organized. I should roll with the punches. I should...

I can't be everything. What matters the most?


Nancy Face said...

Wow! I found a lot of my own "shoulds" in your list!

Geneva said...

My dad always says, "don't should yourself." (say it outloud)

Bryan and Ellie said...

Now you can add one more to the list:

"I should stop saying should to myself"

I think we've identified a paradox here!


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