A faithful reader asks
What’s the best response to “I should have ______ (done x y z more) and if I had, things would be different now”? Thank you.”
Ah, yes! Our “Darling Shoulds!” How we resist relinquishing them! As if they were some jewel more precious than diamonds! 😉
“What’s wrong with
“If I had done more xyx, things would be different” ??? And then, “Too damn bad! But it is not the end of the world. Now, what can I learn from this situation?”
Why the need to insert the “should”? It is redundant and unnecessary in the example you have presented.
Shoulds that represent absolutist, moralistic demands, on the other hand, are not so benign, especially when coupled with awfulizing, and then rating.
The bus must come soon. I can’t stand it when the stupid bus doesn’t come on time. The damn thing is always late.
You should whisper sweet nothings in my ear, or I shall be devastated! Since I love you so much, you must return my love!
You must lose weight, and as you don’t do as you must, you are a disgusting pig!
It is much more important, in my opinion, to understand the principle and dynamics at work here that to get overly-academic and overly-fussy about language. The goal is to learn to readily distinguish preferences from demands, hassles from horrors, bad behavior from bad people . . . and to work rigorously and consistently to move aware from what Gary Emery calls the “Should System” and operate more and more form the “Choice System.”
For me, it is just easier to avoid using shoulds in all their overt as well as disguised forms (as much as possible). These forms are NOT necessary for clear and intelligent communication. Possibly more important, even if I am clear that I am using a should conditionally or predictively, or playfully, or in some other way that is not demanding, other people may reacting to it consciously or unconsciously as a demand.
I would say, use any language you want; but the REBT goal is to organize our thinking, emoting and behaving, our relationships with others and with the world at large in ways that involve preferences, not demands, reactions to negative events as hassles-not-horrors, realizing that when people behave badly, that does not make them “bad people.”
And one finally thing, perhaps not entirely on topic. When Dr. Ellis refers to people as “fallible humans being,” trust me kiddies, he doesn’t mean that! Dr. Ellis knows very well that although people have a strong tendency to behave fallibly, that does not make them fallible human beings. Following Korzybski ‘s lead, Dr. Ellis “wrote the book” on this stuff, for Pete sake! I really have no idea why he enjoys that phraseology. It is confusing to newbies, and it is not kosher General Semantics. Possibly because it is catchy and helps him make his point, possibly because he assumes his readers are intelligent enough to realize he is taking a sort of “poetic license” which should be regarded as an expression, not as literally. Possibly he was just responding unconsciously to the Judeo-Christian mythology of “original sin.”? Dunno. We can speculate until the cows come home. The point is, that even though human beans have a strong tendency to behave fallibly, to make mistakes, to think, emote and behave irrationally, that does not make them fallible human beans, only human beans who SOMETIMES–but certainly not always–behave fallibly.
6,681 total views, 2 views today
How useful was this post?
Click on a star to rate it!
Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1
No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.
Originally posted 2013-07-12 20:46:46.
- REBT-CBT Book Shop Now Open! - Sun 29 Mar 20
- New Feature: Your Opinion Matters! - Sun 29 Mar 20
- Happiness of your life depends upon the the quality of your thoughts - Sat 28 Mar 20
Search this site
Quotes That MatterNo One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your ConsentElanor Roosevelt
Diplomat, activist and First Lady of the United States 1933-1945
… (next quote)
Regular Columns & Features
Amazon Associate Member
Rex Alexander and REBT Info are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
When you buy items using the links on this website, we may get a small commission which keeps me in coffee, which keeps me working, which keeps me providing valuable content for you. Thank you for your continuing support of REBT Info.com. ~Rex
TOS / Terms of Service
Pretty basic stuff: No fussing, no fighting, no cussing, no spamming, no scamming, no blaming, no flaming, no hating, no bating, no trolling, no personal attacks. No pornography (Damn!). The Golden Rule applies. Focus on issues, ideas and principles rather than on personalities and you will fit right in. Please keep your contributions friendly and polite, treat your fellow members and readers with respect and all will be well.
All content and information submitted become the property of REBT Info (REBTinfo.com)
We at REBT Info value your privacy. Your personal information is secure with us. Secure server software (SSL) encrypts all information you enter before it is sent to us, and all of the customer data we collect is protected against unauthorized access.
We WILL NOT sell, rent, distribute or otherwise share your personal information, including e-mail address, to or with anyone for any reason (except in the extremely rare, unlikely case of demands by duly authorized law enforcement acting strictly in accord with due process).
For more information, please read the long version
Copyright © 2012-2020 by Rex Alexander dba REBT Info / http://REBTinfo.com.
All rights reserved. The content of this website or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This website, REBTinfo.com, and others under the REBT Info family are for education, information and entertainment purposes only; are not intended as, nor should be regarded as medical or psychiatric diagnosis, advice or treatment.
By accessing this blog you understand and agree to these conditions, as well as to the other Terms of Service / TOS posted, and which may be updated and amended from time-to-time.
By accessing this website blog and related media, you affirm that you have read, understand and agree to our Terms of Service / TOS which may be updated and amended from time-to-time.
This is a public blog
Anything you post may be viewed by the public. Therefore, do not post anything you wish to remain private.