Whenever I hear the word "should" I cringe. I hear myself thinking I should or shouldn't do that, my family should or shouldn't do that, people should or shouldn't do that, and it causes stress. Because should and shouldn't's are beliefs that limit you and make you narrow minded.
I have recently started to be more conscious, thinking is it true? Should Captain Underpants make his bed - I want the bed made, he doesn't. So by being angry or disappointed in him, by having this expectation of him he won't meet - I'm imposing my stressful limiting beliefs on him. And making myself stressed! If I didn't have the thought, I'd simply make the bed if I wanted it made.
If you actually questioned ANY and all your beliefs that cause stress, would even one be resolutely true?
I've been writing down all the thoughts that I got stressed about and not found one that was absolutely, resoundingly 100 percent true.
Here is one thought that stresses me to show you how to work on it:
People should stop criticising me.
1. Is it true?
Yes, they're so rude! They say things I wouldn't dare.
2. Is it absolutely true - that people shouldn't criticise me?
Okay, may be not. Because they do and that's their business. No matter how I feel about it they'll still do it because that's them. I guess I should just walk away.
3. How do you react when you have that thought?
Ashamed, humiliated, angry. Very angry! Incensed. I don't say anything and then seethe, and if I do defend myself I still seethe because they don't accept my point of view.
4. Who would you be without that thought?
I'd not be holding on to these emotions I cannot face. I'd not hide behind anger. I'd just walk away and think that us their business to criticise, it's not mine to listen or even defend because defence is the first act of war.
5. Turn the thought around (with 3 reasons why the statement is true or truer than the original):
People should criticise me
(Because it is our way to judge - the sky is blue, the grass is green - they're judgements. Because people have beliefs that they don't question and that is their business not mine to change. Because people are scared of what they don't know so they're voicing fears).
I should not criticise other people
(Because I judge others and criticise them in my head and out loud so it's hypocritical. Because it isn't Godly. Because I'd rather have positive loving thoughts).
I should not criticise me
(Because I am very hard on myself and don't celebrate my positive traits. Because I feel guilty about errors rather than seeing them as opportunities to learn. Because it isn't useful - blameless acceptance of my issues will create learning opportunities).
This doesn't mean I accept people's mistreatment of me when I "work" on it. It just means I get less stressed and deal with it. If someone hurts me, I ask them to stop, they don't, I distance myself. As an example I was getting really annoyed at the park because I don't want people smoking near my children - so I can politely ask them to move away and move away myself.
Source: Byron Katie, Loving What Is: Four Questions that will change your life.