I hate being told what to do. I actually hate it. By extension, I also dislike telling others what to do. One of my least favorite words in the English language is “should.” It’s such an arrogant, simple, assumptive statement that rarely has context or empathy. My disdain for the word comes from a period in which many around me were attempting to help me deal with tragedy.
Don’t get me wrong. Those who tried had the best of intentions. It’s easy, especially armed with the bravado and obliviousness of youth, to assume that one can help a friend deal with hardship. How to do so effectively is something we don’t typically learn until much later in life. Thus, we spew useless, often dismissive, advice that ultimately does more harm than good. Some of us never learn. I’m sure you have a friend that loves dishing out nonsensical witticisms or hopeful bullshit mantras or idioms. Their advice might even be useful from time to time but I assure you that’s purely by accident.
Why? Because, if they really cared, they wouldn’t tell you what to do. They would help you find a process or solution that takes you, as a person, into account and encourage you to implement accordingly. Those who are willing to throw out the “should” often do so at the very, very beginning of a conversation. Rarely will they ask questions or participate in any real critical analysis. What they’re waiting for is for you to acknowledge their brilliance. It isn’t about you. It’s about them, even if they don’t consciously realize it.
What does all of this have to do with blogging? Well, people have been telling me for years that I “should” be blogging. Few of those who have said so know nearly enough about me, or my life, to make such a bold statement. Also, few of them have ever blogged. Writing is an arduous and energy consuming commitment so asking someone to do it is like asking some to play the violin or complete a painting each day. As such, hearing the suggestion as often as I have has turned me off to the whole process. If you tell someone they “should” be doing something, realize that you’re likely not the only person doing so. Over time, this builds up pressure and anxiety making it less and less likely that the person will do the thing being suggested. And, even if they do decide to do it, it will be hard for them to find joy or happiness in it.
The next time you decide that someone you care about “should” be doing something, take a second. Take them into account. Even if your advice seems correct, take a moment to assess whether or not its the right time. Ask questions that might help them come to the action on their own. This is what Chad did with me and this is why I’m even attempting a blog now. He took the time, encouraged me, provided me with tools and is now holding me accountable. If you care about the person, you’ll be patient and persistent Otherwise, you’re just full of “should.”.