When searching for meaning in your life, it’s hard not to succumb to the ‘shoulds.’ When we use should we aren’t taking responsibility for our decisions, we are letting others dictate what is important to us. If you are familiar with Susan’s Pain-to-Power Vocabulary list, ‘should’ is matched up with ‘could.’ ‘Could’ gives us a choice, gives us the opportunity to take responsibility for our own decisions. ‘Should’ implies guilt and obligation—the thing we think we ought to do or be but that doesn’t fit right with our heart.
In End the Struggle and Dance With Life, Susan wrote: “‘Shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ are signs of our need to conform. It is better that we learn to follow our heart…to follow our instinct about the way life is best lived for who we are as human beings.”
Here’s an example of this way of thinking. The ‘should’ statement: “The meaning of my life should be helping those less fortunate than me.” The ‘could’ statement: “The meaning of my life could be helping those less fortunate than me.” Can you see the difference? In the ‘should’ sentence we can almost feel the guilt and the reluctance. We can practically hear the ‘but…’ that will come after it. In the second sentence, the statement already seems like a choice, it implies that there are other worthwhile things too.
Susan said, “‘Shoulds’ come from the Lower Self fragment our lives. They make us worry. They make us do too much, think too much, plan too much. These ‘shoulds’ pull us apart and make us lose our center. Remember that from a Higher Self perspective, our enjoyment and contribution to life comes from following our own heart…and everyone’s heart is different. Simply ask your Higher Self what is right for you to do relative to your particular purpose here on earth and listen for the response.”
Find your meaning and purpose by listening to your heart, not by what society says it should be.