Trying to make a tough decision and feeling off balance about it? It’s not always obvious whether an influence is for our own best interest or to get us to conform to someone else’s perspective. Sometimes, we feel compelled to listen to pressures, even if they don’t align with our values because we want to please our friends, our families and even ourselves. Over time, doing things that aren’t in sync with our own desires creates burnout, so the following process may be used to keep yourself from being “should on”.

First, identify whether a “should” is helpful or harmful. Since quantum science has proven we are actually made up of “quanta” or little packets of vibrating energy, it makes logical sense that our language provides a plethora of clues for whether a force will insulate or amplify our optimal balance (e.g. fulfillment). The lists below provide groups of words for which to listen that will help you determine whether to receive or filter out advice.

Consider each input, whether internal or external, material or imaginary. Give yourself the space to think about the impact of each force to your energetic balance over time. What may seem like a positive thing at first (e.g. doughnuts, alcohol, recreational drugs, or a one-night stand) may create the risk of imbalance or reduce your power over time. Determine which list best describes the way you feel energetically about a force’s impact on your life. It’s important to think of any force through the lens of its sustainable consequence, not just immediate impact.

Positive Shoulds
(Support or move us forward)
Negative Shoulds
(May be beneficial or detrimental, take the Should Monster Quiz to determine which)
I feel…in sync, resonating, spun up with joy, vibrating, lit up, transformed, accelerated, amplified, ignited, positive, tuned in, connected I feel…out of sync, off track, spun up with anger, powerless, insulated, slowed, stopped, inhibited, forced, negative, limited, confined, restricted, frayed, fragmented, isolated

If forces support sustainable positive results, they do not need to be filtered out. If they inflict negative dissonance, even if they were given with the best of intentions in mind, we may want to put them through a second filter to determine whether to consider the input as sustainably helpful or harmful.

Your Personal Should Monster Quiz

Ask yourself the series of questions below for an input that resulted in “Negative Shoulds” from the prior lists. Answer each of the questions below by choosing “Yes” or “No.”

  1. (Yes / No) Did the advice come from someone who’s opinion you respect, like a close friend, family member, or trusted work colleague?
  2. (Yes / No) Is the input real (i.e. not hearsay or conjecture)?
  3. (Yes / No) Does it align with your personal beliefs, goals, and values?
  4. (Yes / No) Will following it offer you benefits like protection, safety, education, health, well-being, or long-term satisfaction?
  5. (Yes / No) Consider the worst possible outcome if you ignore the input, and are you energized by taking that risk?

Based on the number of “Yes” responses, this guide may help you identify things that are sapping your energy and coming from the Should Monster itself.

  • 0 Yes Responses: You have come face to face with the Should Monster, and it is probably best to filter out this input. Note the least disruptive way to energetically filter it out is to simply ignore this input.
  • 1-2 Yes Responses: Consider filtering out this input or to at least delay getting into action until you’ve had an extended time to consider its impact in your life. Can’t tell how you “feel” about it? Ask your intuition. I like a method from Put Your Intuition to Work by Lynn Robinson that suggests asking yourself if you should do something or not—flip a coin, with heads meaning “yes, do it” and tails meaning “no, don’t do it.” Flip the coin. When it lands on heads (yes), what do you immediately want to do? In the split second after it lands, do you immediately want to go for the best 2 out of 3 or do you feel energized and want to get moving? If this little exercise leads you wanting to hold out for another flip, then you’re probably dealing with the Should Monster.
  • 3-5 Yes Responses: There’s a good chance this input may support or amplify your energy in a positive way. Strongly consider this force before discarding it.

It’s hard to take the risk of making others unhappy, disappointed, or hurt. Many of us are accommodating pleasers to our own detriment—bending over backwards for everyone else in sacrifice of our own well-being. If you’ve identified a “Should Monster” in your life, even if it’s yourself, I want you to know you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your own needs, wants, and values, even if they’re different.

If you don’t defend your personal energy balance, you’ll eventually lose productivity, become anxious, and burn out. It all starts with feeling off-balance and uncomfortable and builds into exhaustion if not acknowledged and dealt with appropriately. Remember, since we are all energetic beings from the same energy, we are all connected, so we have access to the Spirit’s energy naturally to access anytime we need it. 

We never have to conform to something that goes against our values, beliefs, or health. We are strong enough to take the risk of accepting our authentic selves. Our personal definition of “success” is what matters. We are powerful and worthy despite what the Should Monster may tell us. That power to be fulfilled, purposeful, loved, and at peace is available to all, if we’ll just take the risk to ignite it. I’ll even let you borrow a light to get started.