You should read my blog. I should write more often. I should be more creative, should be less critical. You should notice a theme by now to what I’m saying.

How should I say this…? By what mechanism, what value system, should one do anything? Saying, “I should…” presumes a correctness that is outside oneself, a proper, correct, way to evaluate your actions. But, as you perhaps noticed in an earlier entry, for it’s certainly implied, there is no ultimate, overarching, value system that one should use.

Without realizing it, you actual avoid responsibility by saying, “I should…”, because you don’t claim a valuation of your own as to what’s important. In other words, “deciding what you should do” is not actually done by you. Depending on your outlook, your “should” is decided by some higher power, or by no one at all.

If you want to be completely honest with yourself, and others, be honest with how you decide your actions – explicitly name the value which justifies your action. Choosing to do something because of some value you have, and naming that value, says something more about you, more than doing something “because you should” would do.

Also, telling someone, “you should have…” is actually a bit insulting, for it implies an incorrect choice, a bad decision on her/his part. And if used on a child, or anyone with whom you have a responsibility to teach, you actually are avoiding your charge to teach, effectively forcing the child to ask “why should I?” in order to learn.

So next time you nearly “should” yourself or someone else, stop yourself, and think “why?” It’s not easy at first, but with practice, it should get easier. I’ll stop now before I “should” all over my blog.


About twio

In accepting Doubt, I find Certainty
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One Response to Should!

  1. Evelyn says:

    “You shouldn’t’ve done it this way” is a corollary of this – there are people who will delight in telling you this, specially after you have irredeemably broken something. (There was a comic caricature on UK TV for a while who was actually called “Mr You shouldn’t’ve done it this way”).
    IMHO people do this because it boosts them in their own estimation; it makes THEM into the person who knows (in hindsight) the right way to do whatever it was, though of course they did not suggest it, and forces YOU into the category of at best student, at worst fool.
    It’s a pecking order gambit.
    The way to win this game is simply not to play. If you MUST answer them the correct answer is “I prefer the way I DID it to the way you DIDN’T do it,” or simply tell them to b***** off…

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