Words (verbs actually) that I really dislike are “must” and “have to”. They are used in expressions of a compulsive nature. They are used to give commands; they express an absence of choice.
A little while back I was reading Brian Kim’s blog. I disagree with Brian Kim that MUST-phrases are “better language”, as he states in his post on underdog teams. He proposes to use I must instead of I’d like to, and although I agree that the phrase is an improvement, I must is still what I consider bad language.
As you might know, I hate it when someone tells me I must do something, or that I have to do something. Give me advice, or give me something to think about, but please let me decide for myself! I’m particularly aware of it when other people do this to me, probably because one of my strongest values is freedom, and I express that through my power of choice.
However I noticed about a year ago that I use must and have to all day long. Not to others, but to myself! I’m commanding myself to do things I have to do. I have to finish this book. I have to do groceries. I must exercise today. It does the job…well most of the times it did anyway. The bad thing is that when I finish what I tell myself I must do…it doesn’t always feel good! The feeling is best described as “relief” or “absence of guilt”. I know I’m doing all kinds of stuff that’s important to me, yet it doesn’t really satisfy me.
Every time I caught myself commanding myself around, I started asking myself questions:
- Who says it has to be done?
- Why do I have to do this?
- What happens if I don’t do it?
- What do I get from doing it?
These are not questions to avoid execution, but questions to investigate why I’m being commanded around. Because behind every command is a desire to achieve something. There is a want that I want to be fulfilled. I want to learn what the book has to teach me; I want to have a healthy diner tonight; I want to have a good stamina. Fulfilling wants gives me pleasure while doing it, and a sense of accomplishment when finishing it. Discovering the want behind the command, changes my perception of the task from doing a chore to executing a meaningful activity. In the end it’s still the same work, but the energy that accompanies it changes polarity. I like to do it, and I’m proud of the results.
This can work for you too! Explore the wants behind the commands, and discover a satisfying world full of positive energy. You have to try it! (pun intended)
I also encourage you to check out Brian’s blog, because he has some really insightful posts. I don’t always agree with him, but he makes me think and that’s something I value very high.