And if we're not 'punishing' ourselves in this form of verbal assault, we might hear it out loud as little kids: "You should know better," or "You know better than that!"
Why the latter may be worse: Were it not for others saying it to us or our otherwise learning it as a pseudo-valid form of contrition, would we really have ever adopted the belief in the first place? Rather than shaming ourselves into learning some sort of lesson - which is quite insane enough - others are trying to do it (to us STILL) as adults. And the language may vary but it still falls under shame.
In this context, "I should know better," or its twin, "I should have known better," are phrases said in the wake or aftermath of perhaps a series of unfortunate events or something that did not turn out as we'd hoped.
I am not using the phrase "I should know better," as its used for potential future events - when we're talking ourselves into plans or boundaries or are about to do something silly or spontaneous like eat ice cream at midnight.
- "I should go to the store today."
- "I should probably eat dinner before going to the movie."
- "I should not eat ice-cream at midnight tonight."
Shoulding YourselfNo, this is about the 'shoulding' on ourselves that illusion would indicate as some alternate reality out there in which we 'Could' have chosen differently at that point in time that is no longer available to us but has put us right here. In Reality. And people think it or say it without question. And I'm here to say, "Question it." In fact, question every thought that causes you discontent. Why not? We've been trained to believe our minds and here we are.
Some of us are training ourselves to not believe gossip but what is gossip except someone else's mind believing a thought and passing it onto you for your belief? Pshaw!
My friend, who is and has undergone disillusioning [ie, worship of mind] said last night - in our 80* weather - "I wanted to tell you that it could be snowing in a nearby town!" It was a joke with my question to her last summer, "Could it be snowing in Anytown?" And she said, "No!" I asked, "Are you sure?" She said, "Yes!" The point wasn't to confuse her; The point was an exercise in faith in mind.
Faith in MindThe mind's job is to believe what it thinks. Let that sink it. It's not a trick phrase. That really is its job. It's my mouth's job to masticate my food. It's my foot's job to keep my leg balanced. And while my eyes assignment is to see what is in front of me, it's my mind's job to have thoughts and believe them.
Now when I worship my mouth's taste buds and feed it junk, my body's job will be to become fatiged, bloated, sugar high, or dis-eased. When I worship my culture and decide to remove the job of balance from my feet, I might engage in foot binding. When I worship what I see in front of me, I might quit worshiping my taste buds because although I weigh 76 pounds, I believe my eyes when the mirror 'shows' me that I am fat.
Thoughts and beliefs are fun. But the glitch happens in the worship and faith of mind. And that's what conflict of the world boils down to; I believe a thing and you don't. Let's war.
But today I'm just gonna tackle one huge basis for illusion, that is really quite simple: Should.
And more specifically, "You should know better."
Question Your Shoulds and Find the TruthWith Byron Katie's "The Work" I'm going to show how the process goes so that you can question every single thought you have that removes you from reality and lands you into illusion. I think there are so many problems in this world because people aren't dealing in Reality but Illusion. And you can't fight insanity. BUT, you can remove your own Illusions, which in turn, reveals the Truth.
And then in this Spirit of Truth, you will render all other Illusions (and subsequently, other peoples' illusions onto you) impotent. Now you can try to fight fire with fire and invent more grandiose illusions, but this (four questions or inquiry) is easier, more peaceful, and Sane. :)
Let's See An Example of The Work in action!
The Four Questions
- Is it true?
- Can you absolutely know that it's true?
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
And A Turn-Around
"I should know better!"
Maybe Typical Answers
These answers may be yours. I know they've been mine. I know they've been friends. Now remember, you 'should not' necessarily answer this way. You 'should' answer honestly. And as always, explore this blog for other examples or thought processes on how to do The Work if you find yourself stuck or confused.
1.) Is it true? Of course it's true. I keep doing the same thing over and over and I keep getting hurt. When will I ever learn? I should definitely know better at this point.
2) Can you absolutely know that it's true? At this point, it is not unusual for me to get another "YES it is true!" And that is okay. But this is the pause question. This is the question, that after allowing the brain to defend it's YES in question #1 - if it needs to - we sit and really focus our attention and intention on our goal: Our goal is the Truth and the End of Suffering (in this moment). So if our goal is Truth, Disillusioning, and Sanity...we must drop the ego and hear this question for what it is asking. So. Sit with it. "Can you absolutely know it is true that you should 'know better'?" Well I am not really sure if I can 'absolutely' know.
3) How do you react, what happens, when you believe the thought, "I should know better" and you don't? Typical answers... I feel stupid. I feel inadequate. And then I feel stressed and my self-esteem takes a nosedive. I notice I start belittling myself in ALL matters of history. My mind starts remembering all those other times I should have known better but didn't. I really start thinking something is so defective with me and that I'll never be okay. I might even start punishing my stupidity by stopping things I enjoy or hurting myself with defeating behaviors or self talk. In a phrase, I guess I begin hating myself. Maybe I think I can hate myself into 'knowing better?'
Firstly, I put that last phrase in because that'd been MY question. Somewhere along the line in my early life I somehow thought that I could hate myself into 'knowing better' or 'doing better.' I had somehow picked up the thought that if I could punish myself enough [with whatever pain I could inflict on myself] or shame myself enough, that I would change.
Secondly, it never worked. If shame worked, we'd all be healed and changed by now. What DOES work is acceptance. Thirdly - and most importantly - don't get sidetracked with any version of psychoanalysis.
It's fun to do in your spare time, perhaps, but not when we're fighting the dragons of illusion. Your mind WANTS you to become distracted. That is its job. It's the mind that continually eats its own tail that keeps us in illusion so don't fall for that trick. We're undoing illusions and insanity and it will fight you on it. Like Katie says, "The Work stops when you stop answering the questions." Don't stop answering the questions.4.) Who would you be without the thought, "I should know better?" This might be difficult but just use your imagination for your good in this case. Just imagine yourself in whatever 'I should know better" situation and FEEL yourself without that thought. Pretend you'd never even heard those words or had been trained into the belief of them. How does you feel? Who are you? I would feel free. I would feel accepting of myself in whatever situation I might find find myself in. I'd maybe see those mistakes not as mistakes but learning opportunities. I feel a great deal of peace.
Turn Around the Original Statement to Find the TruthNow if we're undoing those illusions & lies that bring about stress, pain, or suffering it stands to reason that in this world of opposites that turning around the original stressful thought MIGHT be more Truthful. So let's see how it works out.
Turnaround: "I should not have known better."Challenge: Why not? Why should you NOT know better? This is the fun part. This is the part we get to shred the mind's stronghold. [ And we only want it shredded when it's enslaving us right? We don't want to shred it when it's acting as support for our peace, clarity, and sanity. ]
At this point, search your mind for WHY the opposite is true. And no, this part isn't necessarily easy - especially when first starting out this path of ruthless disillusioning. BUT it does get easier. Find at least THREE reasons why this opposite statement is true: "I should NOT know better."
These are just examples from real life [mine, my friends]..... Yours may vary.
- "I should not have known better because the reality is I DIDN'T know better."
- "I should not have known better because that experience helped me to realize..."
- "Because it wasn't time for me to know better."
'Should' is Always A ClueWhen I catch myself about to go into 'Should' Land - or rather, it's more of an imprinted memory of how I would have 'shoulded' before waking up - I don't sweat it anymore. These days, if I am thrown back into a memory of how the old me would have felt, I realize it's this mind trying to grasp hold of some kind of familiarity.
But as I was starting out in my search for illusion-free (but at the time I called it stress-free or pain-free), I kept diligent watch and really would bring my Shoulds into scrutiny. [If you read my story on how I first began The Work, you'll maybe have an understanding of how badly I screamed at anything that threatened this 'pain.'] Should was basically all I knew before I began this process of sanity seeking, which means I was immersed for many hours trying to undo this quicksand of a foundation my mind had been built on.
- He shouldn't have done that to me.
- She shouldn't have said that to me.
- I shouldn't have been put in that bad place.
- I shouldn't be angry over that.
- I should be further along than I am.
And then for any NEW 'shoulds' that my mind may've wanted to invent in day to day living, all it took was becoming aware my mind was 'patterning into fantasyland' and then bypassing it in exchange for the Truth: "It should have happened because it did." (Period.). And anything else that may be going on after accepting Reality, can be dealt with and felt with in Truth. And truth is always kinder even if we have to feel anger or sadness or grief. It's kinder to our nature to honor ourselves with any feelings as we meet them in the Land of Truth.
Today, my anti-should comes as first nature and I think it's because Truth is our True Nature.
Final Words on 'Knowing Better' and Codependent Recoveryshame and blame versus acceptance and if you're familiar with me, you know how I am one of those people.
Recently, in reading a particular 3 chapters in "Beyond Codependency" by Melody Beattie [Chapters 5, 6, 7], I was struck again at how a healthy recovery from illusions mimics a healthy recovery in Codependency. [Which could be why I say "the World's Gone Codie."]
Resources: I would encourage you to pick up the "Beyond Codependency" book if you have challenges in codependency [ie, shame, blame, punishing yourself, shoulding yourself, stress, the crazies, etc, etc.], or browse my articles on Codependency (or see a titled index of articles ), come see my Codie Page on Facebook, and/or see more examples of Shoulds and how to deal with them using The Work of Byron Katie.
And if you'd like to, make my day and scribble a note below telling me how beautifully you don't should yourself.