Do You Have a Case of the Societal Shoulds?

Do you find yourself doing things in your life because you should? When in High School did you question whether you wanted to go to college but did because you SHOULD? Did you find yourself in an uncertain relationship but got married because you SHOULD at your age? Were you uncertain about having children but did because this is what you SHOULD be doing?

There has been an interesting phenomenon in my office lately and I am calling it THE SOCIETAL SHOULDS. So what entails these societal shoulds you ask? It is the messages we receive from society TELLING us what we SHOULD do to have a life of happiness. If you follow THIS path you should be happy. Many people who follow this path are questioning why they feel stuck, unfulfilled, and dissatisfied in life. I know because many of YOU are in my office. Yet each of you cannot understand WHY when you did what you SHOULD have done to find happiness. Yet for you fulfillment still feels out of reach. So what does this phenomenon look like?

I have a created a list below that represent examples of the societal shoulds:

-You must go to college after graduating high school.
-You should be in a monogamous relationship that leads to marriage.
-You should want to have children and if you don’t there is something “wrong”.
-Being single means you are not fully fulfilled.
-If you don’t buy a house you are wasting your money.
-You should stay married for the kids.
-You should want to be a stay at home mom and if choose to work you are “selfish”.
-If you are a man you should always be in the mood for sexual intimacy.
-Stability is more important than spontaneity.
-Your family/children should come first before your romantic partner.
-If you are over 35 and want to have a child you are “too old”.

This is a list of just a few of these messages. I am guessing as you read this list you can fill in our own “I should”.

Do you find yourself following the societal shoulds? Have you found yourself unfilled? I am here to challenge these societal beliefs because it “shouldn’t” mean that these messages are the ultimate path to happiness. Now don’t get me wrong, for some people it might be what leads to happiness, but there is not a one path for all. If you have an initiative feeling that one of these “shoulds” does not fit your path you should trust it; as your initiation is a guide that something is not right for you. To find your own unique path in life can be challenging and difficult as others in your life will perpetuate the societal shoulds. Only YOU can know your right path.

I myself have been caught up in these “societal shoulds”. I am currently in my mid 30’s unmarried and without children. I have heard many times throughout my life what “I should” being doing from society. I might get married and I might have children. But I will do it on my own timeline in a way that will create a satisfying and meaningful life for ME. I want YOU to find your own path so that YOU may have the same!