We say “should” all the time, but rarely at the appropriate time. “Should” indicates responsibility in usually a critical way, and with anxiety disorders and depression, this occurs a lot.
“My life shouldn’t be like this.”
This statement hurts because what it really means is that life and who I am are not ok as they are. I know OCD doesn’t feel ok, but hear me out. It’s that “I’m wrong and that if I made a different choice or acted another way, than everything would be as it should“. “Should” makes us feel like we messed up, and what’s worse, if we truly have no or little control, then we are beating ourselves up for a crime we didn’t commit.
When I said this, my therapist asked me how my life should be. Through the tears, I explained how I never thought I’d be this person. He asked when I made the choice to get OCD, and I said it wasn’t my choice, and he said “exactly.” He explained how “Should” was a trap. Who decides what should and should’t be? It’s when we feel like things should be a certain way, that we fall into it.
Next time you say “should”, think if it’s really appropriate. It hurt less to say “I want my life to be different.” because this stems from a real emotion, and begs the question, “how can I improve my emotional state?”
Language can really cause us emotional downs, and here’s another:
“I don’t deserve to be happy”
“Deserve” means you have done something worthy enough to receive something else like happiness, for example. O no. I’t’s impossible for a psychologist to talk me out of this one. They always respond to with “but, everyone deserves to be happy.” Instinctively I know this is not true. Evil people don’t deserve happiness, while kind people do, right? What about people who go through insane trauma; did they not deserve happiness?
In short, no, I don’t deserve to be happy, nor do I deserve to be unhappy.
The truth is that sometimes I will feel happy and sometimes I won’t, but that doesn’t reflect who I am. Most of us strive to be descent people and happiness is not a reward system. Happiness is an emotion that stops by sometimes, and though I feel like it’s unfair that I feel anxious more than I want, it doesn’t mean that I deserve to be unhappy and I shouldn’t believe that it does? 😉