The Tyranny of the Should
This distorted thinking pattern is also referred to as imperative thinking. This occurs when you fixate on how you think a person or situation should or shouldn’t be, rather than how they or it is in actuality. This is another example where our thoughts about a situation are not helpful. For example, when you call someone and they don’t call you back, you think, “(This person) should call me back.” While this may be true, it does nothing to address the situation at hand, and it frequently points to an aspect of the situation or the other person over which you have no control. The pedestrian I almost hit when they started crossing the street SHOULD have looked both ways before they crossed the street. However they didn’t and nothing I think or do will change that. Reminding yourself about how the situation is in actuality, what you have control over, and how you must adapt to the actual scenario are the best ways to counteract this distorted thinking.