As we face an unprecedented situation with coronavirus (COVID-19), I hear “should” frequently. I have never really be a fan of that word. For a long time, when someone told me I “should” do something, I would cringe inside (and it would show up in my facial expressions too). The shoulds and should nots seem to take away freedom, self-expression, and independence. Yet, I sometimes wonder what I am supposed to do, and what is the best course of action in any given situation. Then, knowing the “should” brings comfort, ease, and security.
Yet, there may not be a universal should in certain situations. What I am supposed to do may be very different from what someone else is supposed to do. I am not talking about the unique gifts that each human being holds and how to live those out fully (although, I love talking about that). I am talking about the different needs that we each have, and how the strategies for meeting those needs differ. For today, I am comfortable leaving my home and going about my business, albeit with more mindfulness of what I touch. I know folks who choose to stay home on a self-imposed lock down. Should I? I’m not really certain. We all handle things differently, and the “shoulds” we tell ourselves vary. We all really just want to meet our needs, and cause as little harm in the process.
Yet, what if my efforts to meet my needs really impair another’s ability to meet their needs? It takes time and energy to pause and consider our own needs, and then even more time and energy to think about someone else’s. I certainly do not want to tell you what you “should” do. How would I behave if I fully explored my personal impact, and each person does the same?
Knowing our needs and understanding other people’s needs plays a significant role in conflict resolution.