THE MYTH OF "HAVE TO"
So many of us push through our days believing how our time is spent is predetermined. There is a list in our head that dictates what we have to do, when. We get it done, whether we like it or not. "Of course," you may think, "Everyone's day is full of things you have to do – that's what it means to be an adult."
When we believe that we have to do things that we don't want to do, we lose our personal power. We convince ourselves that we don't have a choice... We don't have a say in how our day unfolds... Which leads to a life that lacks intention and direction toward what we desire. This moves us away from creating the life we want.
When we believe we have to do anything, we give up our responsibility – our ability to consciously respond.
As Marshall Rosenberg taught, every action is an attempt to meet a need.
Instead of subscribing to the notion of "I have to" or "I should," ask what need is met by choosing to take that action.
WHEN YOU BLAME an unspecified other for what you have to do, you're denying your own choice.
Shifting from "I have to" to "I choose to" is a life changer.
Imagine your child or your partner hearing you say "I don't like doing the dishes, but I have to," compared to "I want to do the dishes because I love having a clean kitchen." Even better, imagine THINKING that (and even BELIEVING that!), rather than resentfully festering over the idea that you have to.
Next, explore the reasons why doing the dishes doesn't feel good.
What needs of yours are not met by doing the dishes?
Are you tired from the day and want to relax?
Do you think it means no one appreciates you if they don't help?
Do you want some contribution to caring for shared space?
Is there a way that you can make small changes that will support you in having a clean kitchen without so much discomfort and resistance?
Additionally, play with the idea of questioning the belief that you have to do the dishes in order to have a clean kitchen. Some alternatives I can think of are:
asking a family member to do the dishes.
hiring someone to do the dishes
setting a chores schedule in your house allowing people to choose their jobs, including washing dishes
trading services with your neighbor to clean your dishes in exchange for something else
throwing everything away every night rather than cleaning it
dining at a restaurant every meal
ordering food delivery and using/disposing the containers and utensils
The strategies are endless.
The point is, you choose to do the dishes.
You don't have to.
You could ask or pay or barter with someone to do them for you. You probably choose to do them because you don't want to spend the money on a daily cleaning service and you don't want to throw everything out every night because it too would be expensive and wasteful and unfriendly to the environment. Maybe you choose to because you value your resources, the planet, not attracting bugs and mice, cleanliness and order.
I'm fairly transparent with my family about the fact that I sometimes do things that don't particularly want to do, but I choose to do them because I want to feel and experience the result. I share it because it's true and also because I value modeling choice and being responsible for tending to my own needs. Sometimes, I include a request. And when they choose to join me and help out, I appreciate the support. When they choose something else, that's OK too. But I notice that sharing what I'm experiencing without any pressure for them to comply or to to solve it for me often opens the dialog so that they can make an informed decision about contributing.
And if you're a parent, grandparent, a teacher or have young children in your life, (or have a relationship with any human of any age),
modeling choice and personal responsibility Will teach others how to embody personal responsibility and choice too.
This week, try bringing your attention to when you are using “should,” “have to” or “must.” The first step is always awareness. Ask yourself if it’s true, or if it’s something you are choosing to meet a need that you value. Reframing thoughts leads to clarity. You may find there are some things you are doing that don’t align, and that you’re willing to find another way.