Anger and ‘the shoulds’

Many of us live our lives according to a long list of ‘shoulds’ or rules. These are our beliefs or expectations of how we should behave or how other people should behave. For example: ‘he/she should arrive home from work on time, waiters or shop assistants should treat me with respect, my work colleagues should support me and cooperate with me. I should not make mistakes. I should be better at this’.

Rules’ words

These ‘rules’ will include words and phrases such as:

  • Should must
  • Ought to
  • Have to
  • Need too
  • Duty
  • Responsibility
  • Role
  • The right/wrong way

Each time one of these expectations is not met we get angry. But it’s not the mismatch between our expectations and the actual event that causes the anger – we set ourselves up to become angry by having such a  list in the first place.

They won’t reach our standards

Life will never match your personal expectations. It’s full of individuals with their own views and their own ways of going about things.

By our standards many of these will appear flawed or even bizarre.

But there is little we can do about it. This may be a tough one to accept. But it is reality and is accepting this is a prerequisite to having peace of mind. You have got to accept that you cannot have things your way all of the time. And you have got to accept that even you will not get things right all of them time.

The price of not accepting this is to carry on being righteous – and angry – for the rest of your life…