Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The "Tyrannical Shoulds"

Unless you're a psychiatrist or have a special interest in the specialty, you probably won't recognize the woman in the picture. She was Karen Horney, a German psychoanalyst who practiced over a hundred years ago. She put forth a number of theories, many controversial, and none of which I plan to discuss here. (Pause and let the wind from a collective sigh settle). But in this period following Christmas, I've been reminded of a principle Horney set forth--the tyrannical should.

What do I mean by that? Think of this. In the rush of Christmas, what was your motivation for sending out Christmas cards? Was it to stay in touch with others? Or were some of the cards sent because you knew you "should" do it. If it's the latter, you were succumbing to the tyrannical should.

Did you give more expensive gifts than your budget would comfortably allow? Or did you give some gifts to people because you felt it was expected? Was it because of a desire to do something special, or because you felt you "should" do it? Think about it.

Of course, the tyrannical should doesn't apply only during the season just past. It shows up in every aspect of our life. We constantly do things because we feel as though we "should" do it. I'm very guilty of being a slave to the tyrannical should. I'd like to get away from it, and maybe this year I will. But meanwhile, when you and I do something because of what we think others will expect, when we hear that tape playing in our head that says "You should do that, even if you don't want to," let's think of Karen Horney and the tyrannical should.

Are there things in your life that you feel are a byproduct of the tyrannical should? How would you go about getting past them? I'd like to know. Leave a comment.

Tweet with a single click. "Are you a victim of the 'tyrannical should?'" Click here to tweet.

Note: The winners of the audio books from the contest I mentioned in last Friday's blog are: Anne R, Susan S, Patricia B, and Lee C. I've sent emails to each with their key to download the book and instructions on using it. Thanks to all of you for entering.


Patricia Bradley said...

Hmmm. There are shoulds and then there are shoulds. I understand the negative in purchasing more than you can afford. But I know there are some things I'd never do if it wasn't for the I really should do this. like going to the visitation of a friend's mom I didn't know. I didn't have time with a deadline looming, but I kept feeling I should go. And did. The gratefulness in her face was worth every minute.

We just have to be careful with our shoulds, ;-)

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia, you've made an important distinction. Some things we should do because of what others might think. Others we do because it's the right thing to do--even if we don't want to. Thanks.