What Does “Should” Really Mean?

It has almost become cliche’ to say “don’t should all over yourself.”  I know that until recently I have not internalized the meaning of that phrase, and honestly it irritates me when I hear it.  I have an understanding of why it irritates me so much, the real reason.  I’ve found it through a very difficult journey I am in the middle of right now.   This journey is the reason I started this blog.

I have toyed in my head with how much of ME am I really willing to put out to the world.  Do I have the courage to be truly raw and open with people I don’t know?  How will I get through the inevitable pain of being judged or criticized by someone I don’t even know?  Honestly, there are only 4 people that even read this blog so what am I really worried about?

The characters in my journey are basically the defense mechanisms that helped me survive this world until I could find recovery.  This is the story of MY life and the views I share are from my perspective.  I own it and I am “Daring Greatly.”

I lived a life of “should” because I lived to please others. What I wanted was never a consideration.  This is not to say I didn’t want things, but what I wanted was whatever it took to get “love” from other people.  I remember this from my first memories.

The list of shoulds:

  • Be quiet
  • Be clean
  • Dress like the other girls
  • Don’t eat too much
  • Don’t eat too little
  • Do eat this
  • Don’t eat that9fc51-file451297827287
  • Don’t show your anger
  • Don’t cry
  • Don’t laugh too loud
  • Do as your told
  • Don’t defend yourself
  • Don’t expect anything from anyone
  • Don’t let anyone take care of you
  • Don’t trust anyone
  • Don’t trust yourself
  • Be active
  • Exercise all the time
  • Don’t be lazy
  • Don’t make more money than your husband
  • Don’t put pressure on your husband
  • If you don’t look perfect stay in the house

I’ll stop there.  I never really thought of these as shoulds, they were my reality.  These are the reasons that Brenda the Avenger came to be.  I needed to shutdown any and all feelings and be on high alert at all times.  Honestly, BTA kept me alive even when I didn’t really want to be alive.

My numbing agents run the gamut, but alcohol and eating disorders are the two that brought me to my knees.  I had no choice but to ask for help.   I gave up alcohol 4 ½ years ago, and it was that day that my eating disorder took over.  It took until last October for me to see what was happening.  Stepping out of my life for a while to get help was the hardest and most courageous thing I have ever done.  It is also the scariest!  I feel exposed.  My feelings are raw.   Brene’ Brown  talks about this in “The Power of Vulnerability” , you cannot numb the dark without numbing the light.  I numbed the joy when I numbed the pain.  She said that it is like being a turtle without a shell in a briar patch.  It’s time to get out of the patch and quit searching for a new shell.


My dietitian pointed out to me last week that I am always saying should.  She asked me, are those things you want to do?  I want you to do the things you want to do.  I was taken back a bit, because I felt like in 4 years I had learned so much about myself and here I am again.  I am at the cross roads of should and want.

I looked up the definitions of the word should, since I seem to assign my own definitions to some words, and the first two are:

“1. Used to indicate obligationduty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.

  1. Indicating a desirable or expected state.”

Those describe exactly what my list of should do to me.   They are my expectations of me and my criticisms of myself.  Who would think one word would have so much power?  I gave it that power.

I am on a journey to live differently, see myself differently and allow joy back into my life.  I am going to spend this year practicing being kind to myself and learning what it is I WANT to do, to be, to see, to say and to feel.


I don’t have the equipment to do a vlog on this journey, but I want to do pictorial posts on adventures, activities and projects to see what shakes out.

I am going to put up a poll of ideas and see what the four of you want to see first.  If you have any ideas please share them in the comments.  I love hearing from you.

cowl scarf

What do you think? Inspire me!!