Watch Out For These Poor Thinking Habits: Part 3

    Today we’ll finish up our exploration of poor thinking habits with the habit of reacting from “should” and “should nots.”

    We grow up being conditioned into a complex web of “should” and “should nots.” Whether it’s from our parents, our teachers, our friends, organizations we belong to, our doctors, or the culture as a whole, we live in a sea of “shoulds,” many of which conflict with each other. This can make for tremendous tension and stress.

    In addition, “shoulds” are simply inadequate reactions. They often fail to reflect what is authentic and appropriate in a given situation. “Shoulds” tend to oversimplify. They cram complex realities into limiting categories of right and wrong. Most signficantly, “shoulding” is an emotionally-charged, judgmental strategy that often creates resistance and reaction.

    Because of that, “shoulding” often leads to making mountains out of molehills. “Shoulding” lends itself to melodrama. When you are committed to a “should” or “should not” approach, you tend to overdramatize what is really going on and limit your perception of alternative possibilities.

    To overcome “shoulding,” notice the specific details of a situation and see them in the light of authenticity and appropriateness. Focus on the facts you can describe and back up with experiential evidence and then see how these fit in with what is both authentic for you and in the best interests of all concerned.

    To help you do that, see if you can observe yourself when you are caught up in “shoulding.” Witness what you are doing without being identified with it. Watch yourself “as if from the outside.”

    As you are able to observe your “shoulding” reactions without being fully absorbed in them, you’ll naturally release the negative emotional charge, reduce your inner tension, and be more able to clearly see alternatives. Then you can make choices that are more authentic and serve the greater good.

    Enjoy your practice,

    Kevin Schoeninger

    P.S. This coming month on Spiritual Growth Monthly we’ll explore how to let go of limiting thoughts and cultivate a miraculous mind-set

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