Challenging “shoulds and oughts in Life: An Assertive perspective

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Carl Rogers, the father of Client-Centered psychotherapy, in his book On Becoming a Person proposes that people move away from the “ought” or “should” view of oneself. That is, to truly come to see oneself as genuine may mean cutting off the expectations that other people place on you, the false personas that you erect to please others. For example the woman who wants to be a CPA, but has pressure from her husband to stay at home with their two young children. This expectation has caused tension and conflict in their relationship. She continues to move toward being a CPA but still feels the guilt of not meeting her husband’s request. I think we have all have felt the pressure to do some things we do not wish to do. In these difficult situations take a step back own your thoughts and feelings, listen to other people’s concerns or needs and accept the need for compromise or collaborative problem solving so as to create “common ground” and the ability to move forward. Again, moving away from the shoulds or oughts in life create an opportunity for us is to lean-in an assert our needs and point of view in an assert way.

In this way, the idea of self-awareness and “self-direction” become important foundations for self-actualization. This means that a person needs to take into account the opinions of others, but not at the expense of sacrificing our true feels and asserting what we want. Moving toward one’s goal to be and not how others wish us to be can be painful but maybe necessary for us to live a healthy and open relationship.  In short, one becomes more inner-directed and responsible for the self that one is creating, the process that one is always becoming.

Remember, responsibility is not always easy and in fact, moving away from people who exercise control over our one’s life may be tremendously difficult and unsettling. However, it is only through this acceptance of self and assertion of who we are that you cab begin to undertake a more responsible, free and open existence and, in doing so, move toward a rich and more fulfilling and authentic life free of unnecessary guilt.


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