Giving up “You Should”

Have you ever noticed how many  people give advice by saying the following: “You should….”? These well-intentioned people

well meaning hands

might say, “You should get a new job”. “You should break up with him”. “You should talk to” so and so. In fact, at times, it feels as though everyone has an idea about how we need to be living our own lives.

Joseph Campbell, the famed mythologist, articulated that the mythic dragon in the hero quest, which sits on a mountain of gold and hordes all of the virgins and gold of the world (neither of which it can use), is a symbol of the bound ego. Upon every scale of the dragon, are written the words, “Thou Shalt” or “You Should”. This is the voice of your parents, teachers, society, friends and everyone else who has an idea of how you need to be living your life. “You should do this”. “You should do that”.

It is the job of the Hero, to kill the dragon and to attain the elixir, which is typically a symbol of self-knowledge. Know thyself.

It can be very difficult to get past the voice of “You Should” and listen to our own creative desires and impulses, as we are each the product of our social imprinting, which begins to take place from our moment of birth. Social imprinting is an establishing of your value systems by your society. We receive such imprinting all the time–from our parents, teachers, peers, employers, commercials, television shows, stories we read in print, etc. We receive messages that tell us what we “should” value, appreciate and love and we are instructed how we should behave.  Now, a certain degree of social imprinting is inevitable and, perhaps, even good, as it helps us to integrate into our respective cultures. I should also note that I am not blaming parents when I say that they begin our sense of right and wrong, our values and our mode of operendi, from birth. A certain degree of selfishness is required to focus on our individual, personal desires and to say, “No” to others’ desires for us.

But, it is exactly this, this stand of “No”, that enables us to detach and pursue that which we individually desire. By saying, “No” to what others desire for us, we can say, “Yes” to what we desire for ourselves.

What is it that interests you, personally? Is that desire based in your family’s desires or your colleagues or peers’? What do you really want to do? If you are not already doing it, what is keeping you from it? What obstacles do you face? Simply by articulating the obstacles, we begin to establish a clear sense of direction and, consequently, a plan in how to overcome.

Jim Hart is the founder of Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts, The International Theatre Academy Norway, the Hart Technique and Sleeping Hero Productions, LLC.


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