I have this thing about the word should. I hate it.
When I tell myself I should do something, I’m guilting myself. And I rarely respond favorably to guilt. I’m better at doing things I want to do because those things are good for me. Years ago when I quit smoking, I was successful because I wanted to be, not because I should have been.
When I direct the word should onto someone else, I’m basically saying that I know what’s best for them and they don’t have a clue. It’s really arrogant when you think about it.
A friend of mine recently adopted a rescue puppy. Yesterday she posted on Facebook an adorable photo of her puppy’s brother who is in need of a forever home. She was very clear that she and her husband are a one-dog household; she was simply trying to help the rescue organization place the little fella.
To my utter annoyance, my friend received a barrage of responses telling her that she should adopt the second puppy. She politely restated her position, yet the insistent responses continued. “But two puppies are as easy as one.” “You know you want the second one.” “There are never too many puppies.” “Dogs need a buddy. You should get him too.” It went on and on.
Her husband’s response to one of the posters is priceless: “Awww so sweet. How did you teach them to drive each other to the vet and take care of their own medical needs?”
Here’s the thing. My friend and her hubs simply want one dog. One. Their reasons are none of the world’s business. They don’t have to justify their stance.
As a credentialed life and career coach, I’m trained to help my clients discover the answers that are already inside them. I never tell a client what they should do. I once had a client discontinue working with me because she wanted a coach to tell her what she should do. I don’t know any coach with formal training who would do that.
Maybe in the future when my life is completely perfect and free of mistakes and missteps, I’ll have earned the right to tell someone else what to do. Until then, I’ll support my friends, clients and colleagues in their decisions, love on them when they stub their toes…
and hope they’ll do the same for me.