Dillan DiGiovanni

Stop shoulding on people.

Dillan DiGiovanniComment

There's this thing we do to each other. Many people do it. Not everyone.

We should all over each other.

We have ideas of what people should do. How, where, why and when. It's so automatic, we aren't even aware of it. We have these agreements in our heads, either individual or collective ideas, that run our thinking and motivate our behavior.

The writers-in-residence of our heads compose mini-screenplays of how interactions should go and sometimes we don't even realize we had a preconceived notion until after the fact.

Why am I telling you this? Because it isn't effective. It doesn't accomplish anything. It perpetuates more conflict and confusion. We just keep shoulding all over each other.

My own internal narrative is so deeply ingrained, it's been running on auto-pilot in the background until I really got it this past weekend. For all the work I do on my personal development, this was still a massive blind spot for me. But I get access to my blind spots by living my life and listening deeply to my clients. Whatever they are working through is usually something in my own life that's happening or recently happened.

Last week, I sat down with a client who was recently promoted. He was struggling to get the current seat-holder to provide some training and missing pieces of paperwork. We realized the person in the job now is a little checked out OR wouldn't be able to deliver on these promises for the same reason the person is being moved out of the job. Got it? Why would that person suddenly do what she hasn't been doing all along?

Ok. Easy to see. Hard to accept. It shouldn't be that way, right? A person in a position of power should provide whatever is needed to the person coming up, especially when it was a directive from the top-top people. 

Right. But it wasn't happening like that. I told my client he can should all over the place or deal with reality. He got it. But was still frustrated. That frustration comes from within us, based on our own expectations that are often in conflict with reality. Disappointment. Disapproval. Annoyance. Frustration. Bitterness. Resentment. All from the same source: the little voice in our heads saying, "it/you/he/she/life should be like this."

We are shoulding all over people and life. We do it to get relief. To make things fair. It feeds something in us that gives us anything but freedom and relief. Instead, we could be present to what IS happening and who people are or are NOT. This is our access to workability, progress and teamwork. It is the foundation of healthy relationships--personal or professional (not that there needs to be a distinction). 

While it was easy to see this from 10,000 feet and provide compassion for my client sitting across the table, I got totally confronted with the same scenario in my own life mere days later. 

I spent four 17-hour days producing an event for 100+ people. I was on a team of four putting this together. Two guys are 20 years older than me with more experience but there was little to no direction coming down the pipeline.

My own internal voice starting running, completely involuntarily. 

"So-and-so should be telling me what to do. I shouldn't have to do this alone. It shouldn't function like this. A person in authority should be providing direction."

On and on and on. It kept doing that until I snapped out of it. I saw quite clearly how much time and energy I was spending in the story of what should have been happening and little to none actually dealing with reality and taking action from there. OK, this person had more experience than me but I realized I actually had more mastery of what needed to be done.

The longer I spent blaming this person the more I could not be responsible for delivering results. The more time I deferred to someone else, the more I could avoid validating my own value and expertise.

I can't believe how easy it is now that I see it, but the blind spot was the size of a big black hole due to the amount of time I've spent reinforcing that habit of shoulding all over people. I was taught to do it. Society does it. It's reactive and subconscious----until it is NOT anymore.

We should all over the place. We do it so much we don't even know we are doing it. We don't even see how it isn't working. We just keep sticking to our story of what should have happened, how it should have gone down how people should have acted, what they should have said even when it does nothing to actually make life work better. 

I have so many more examples, but I think you get it. If you don't, read this again. 

If you find yourself saying/thinking, "no, but really. People should act certain ways. That person in authority really should have given that person the information he needed as he was exiting the job. That person above you, Dillan, should have been giving you direction," keep thinking like that. See what results get produced and if the info my client and I needed actually comes (it didn't). 

OR you can stop shoulding all over people. We can see our POV (point-of-view) and get face to face with reality as it is. We can drop it. We can get over it. We can realize we're doing it and wasting time on something that isn't actually real. And then we can take action from there to get the results we want in our lives.

And be better people in the process.