I laugh when I hear someone in a meeting say that they "shoulded" all over themselves. It is funny but such a true statement for so many of us in the program.
I certainly did my share of shoulding. And most of my finger-wagging attitude came because I was angry that my expectations and values weren't being met. And I had no concept at the time about being powerless. I thought that I knew how things should be. The alcoholic had a different attitude.
I listened to a sponsee tell me about his shoulding yesterday. His wife is an active alcoholic, and he told me about his morning conversation. It went something like this:
Him: "You sure are being grumpy this morning."
Her: "Yes, I guess I am. But you seem to not be so happy yourself. What's bothering you?"
Him: "You! You are bothering me. You should cut down on your drinking. You feel bad and then you sit around and mope. You should go out for a walk, do something positive. And you should get some help."
Wow---I remember those conversations. They did nothing but cause a major escalation. We would both end up saying things that were hurtful because I was angry at her drinking and felt it was my job to get her to stop by shaming, blaming and shoulding.
At the time, I didn't understand the concept of powerlessness, acceptance, or minding my own business. I was critical, judgmental and angry. And I probably learned a lot of that from my parents who were judgmental themselves.
Anyway, I talked to the sponsee about how a statement that starts with the word "You" is a controlling statement. And it often contains some form of accusation or judgment. If I feel compelled to make a comment, an "I" statement about my thoughts works much better and feels more honest.
"Thou shalt not should thyself. "