Do you know this inner voice that always tells you what you “have to” or “should” do? I have observed it with myself and with others around me, hearing such things as: “I have to/should exercise more”, “I have to/should eat healthier”, “I have to/should drink less alcohol”, “I have to/should do more for my family”, “I have to…, I should …, I have to …, I should …”. And sometimes it says “I should not eat so much chocolate”, “I should not be so lazy”, etc. (While translating my blog from German, it occurs to me that it might be a German thing altogether, and at the same time there may be similar or other things that your inner voice tells you to do and not to do.)

Such sentences do not make these things look like lots of fun to me. How about you? “Having to” do things seems not very cool somehow, it’s too compulsive. When I notice such inner monologue within me, “having to” do all sorts of things, I sometimes imagine little Julia. Little Julia certainly could not have been motivated with such language. Instead, she would have wanted to do these things even less, and on the opposite, she would have wanted to do exactly those things that she wasn’t supposed to do.

Even if we have grown up, I do not think it means we can be motivated with compulsive orders or prohibitions (even if we might have learned to adapt to those). Yet something that works for me, and already worked for me as a child, is “wanting to”. I dare to say that it is the same for most of us. And most of the times, that is what we mean when we say “I have to / I should”:

Take for example “I have to / I should exercise more”. It could actually mean: “I want to have a healthy body and thus want to exercise more.” Or “I have to / I should work more” could mean “I want to earn my living and thus I want to work.” Especially with regard to the last example, I believe we sometimes have difficulty admitting that we actually “want to” work to start with. I believe it is worth while looking at it closer, so as to getting from “having to” to “wanting to”, which might include “being free to” and “having to” do certain things – only that it all starts with “wanting to” do something. Isn’t whatever I “want to do” something that I enjoy doing much more, somehow?

At the end of the day, all that we have is what we want, then.

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