05/24/2011 12:55 pm ET Updated Jul 24, 2011

Maybe You Should Have

The West has just passed through one of its annual spiritual times: Easter, both Western and Eastern Orthodox, and Passover. In my spiritual counseling practice, I have been falling over what I call "The Shoulds."

We have so many shoulds. And shouldn'ts. Life shouldn't be this. People shouldn't do that. I should never have. You fill in your own blanks.

Do you, as the saying goes, "Should on yourself?"


First of all, how do you know what you should have?

Second, how does anyone else know what you should have?

Third, how do we know what anyone else should have?

Sure, there are ideals that we all hold, most of them different for each person. We shouldn't litter. We should be kind. We should use common courtesy. We should be honest. We should. We shouldn't. Where does it end?

Here's a formula I use in my practice that almost always releases a client from shoulding.

Okay, maybe you should have, and if you could have, you would have, but you couldn't, so you didn't, so next.

It's all well and good to claim that we should have...whatever, but by the time we are beating ourselves up with that, we haven't done whatever we should have. What purpose is there in that? Staying in the past? Living in guilt/sin? Suffering? Condoning no pain/no gain?

Maybe all those things, but there's no genuine, productive purpose served on that should have path. The issue now is: What's next?

What's next?

What can I do to change myself and my thoughts to release myself from past regret and come into the present moment which is the only place where I can make changes?

So the next time you catch yourself in should haves, remember:

Maybe you should have

And if you could have

You would have

But you couldn't

So you didn't

So next?

The great Nazarene rabbi was noted for saying, "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect." Matthew 5: 48 This is an egregious mistranslation from the Aramaic. The actual translation of the verse is:

"Be ye therefore perfecting even as your God which is in Heaven is perfecting."

Let should haves kick you into a process of gentle, graceful change, dear one.

For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso's website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and Friend her on Facebook.

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