Thursday, October 04, 2012

Cognitive Distortion #8, Should Statements

This is where you try to motivate yourself by saying "I should do this" or "I really ought to do that.  Such statements to yourself generally cause you to feel pressured and guilty or pressured and resentful.

Similarly, when you direct should statements towards others it increases your sense of dissatisfaction and frustration.  Thinking to yourself "he really should stop typing and pay attention to what is being said" will invariably increase your dissatisfaction and give room in your mind  for further statements of resentment of the other person and discouragement about creating what you want to happen.   (One of the most common ones to follow this are the "always" and "never" thoughts that are part of cognitive distortion #1.)

Should statements can generate a lot of unnecessary turmoil in your daily life and actually decrease your progress towards becoming the sort of charitable, loving, patient person that you should want to become.  They have great power to create loathing, guilt and discouragement about yourself or bitterness, disillusionment or self-righteousness in your reactions to the human failings of others.

Ultimately, you have to realize what God realizes; that people, including yourself, are imperfect and make mistakes and that He expects that.  It's part of the plan.  And the thing to do instead is to expect the imperfections of reality gracefully, respond wisely to them when you encounter them, and love and appreciate in spite of them, not reduce your reaction to a bunch of frustrating "shoulds".

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