“Should” “Should not”


I overheard these conversations recently:

“You should not complain about your work, many people do not have a job…”

“You should enjoy your pregnancy, many people can’t get pregnant…

“You should be happy, many people don’t have a home…”

“You should spend more time with your daughter to build a bond…”

“You should not spend too much time with your daughter because you need to have your own life…”

Fair enough, many people struggle to find work, struggle to build a family, struggle to find shelter, struggle to put food on the table for their families. Yet, I find no direct logic to: “therefore, you should be able to cope with your life and issues.”

What is considered stressful for some might look like a silly thing for others. However, everyone has his or her own limits.

There must be some perspective: we need to be grateful and thankful for what we have. Yet, if we find that there is a problem, we need to confront the challenge in our space, our time, and in a way that is appropriate for us and the context.

I have a personal sensitivity, and bias against these two phrases of “should” and “should not. When I was younger, I was told I should eat more, do this, don’t do that, but never given an explanation why. Even when I was hot and sweaty, I was told I “should” keep my sweater on. Even when I was puking with having eaten too much food, I was told I “should” finish my plate. I did not understand why.

As I grew up, I became judgmental and decided that other people “should” do this or that. I adopted the system.

Yet, as I went through depression, understanding now that everyone has his or her own stories and reasons, I started to reject “should”s and “should not”s, aside from the law.

When we hear these seeming complaints, empathy would urge us to stop for a moment, and try to understand what was behind such statements.

Was work too much to cope with? Too much travelling? Not fulfilling?
Was pregnancy stirring up physical ailments, inducing anxiety?
What caused the unhappiness by some other hidden apprehensions? Was depression creeping up?

Are these “complaints”, calls for help for the iceberg we can’t see hidden beneath sea level?

Who are we to tell others how they should be feeling or not?

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2 Responses

  1. Erik Young says:

    I consistently being told what should and should not. Ex wife and then new relationship, I believe I allow this happen in the beginning to show how much I love them so that they can control it. After a while it become too much and difficult for me to tell them to stop.

    • Noch Noch says:

      Hi Erik
      Thanks for sharing.
      Maybe there needs to be some refinement in how you approach the relationship and set the boundaries?
      Noch Noch

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.