When you say “I must...” or “I have to...” it’s because you have an unfulfilled need or desire

Maybe you think it’s normal to say it because that’s just how life is. But allow me to explain why you should pay attention to how often you say it and even why you should write down the number of times you do. 

Let’s take a few examples. You have just finished work and you tell yourself you have to prepare dinner for your family. Do you really feel like doing it? If you did, you wouldn’t say, “I have to.” So, this is telling you that you wish the opposite was true. Wouldn’t you prefer to get home and not have to prepare a meal?  

Do you sometimes tell yourself that you must go on a diet because you have gained weight again?  Do you really feel able to do it? Wouldn’t you prefer to accept yourself with this weight? 

Another example, that has more to do with BEING, is the following: You tell yourself you must be more present to your spouse or your children. If you are not present enough to them, it’s probably because whatever is preventing you from being sufficiently present is very important to you and it’s your preference to continue in that way.  

All these “I musts” come from our ego, which is working relentlessly to tell us what is good and what is bad. Therefore, every “I must” hides a fear that we would do well to identify. To identify the fear, ask yourself the following two questions each time you hear yourself say, “I must” or “I have to”: 

  • What would I prefer to do?
  • If I give myself permission to follow my preference, what do I fear will happen? 

After answering these questions, check if you would be ready to assume the consequences of acting in accordance with your preference. If the answer is yes, which is often the case, you will have performed an act of love toward yourself because you will have listened better to your needs. If on the other hand you come to the conclusion that you could not assume the consequences. In that case, give yourself permission to be afraid and not to follow your preference. This is another form of love toward yourself. By making a conscious decision, you will naturally say or think “I choose to...” instead of “I must...” It will therefore help you be a happier person because you won’t have the impression of always being obligated to be or do something that you don’t feel like doing or being. 

It’ll also be easier for you to share your real need with those around you and to come to an agreement that reconciles your need and your “I must.” 

It is important to be more and more aware of the number of times you think or say, “I must,” because it will help you discover your needs. Moreover, many people often find themselves thinking or saying “I must” because they are unable to say no or believe they are responsible for the happiness of others. 

Don’t let your ego play tricks on you! It’s not a matter of simply choosing better words in place of “I must” or “I have to”, whatever expression you use, the stress or discontent of not answering your needs will be present all the same. When you make the choice to do something, you do not feel uneasy or agitated. You do it with greater joy and acceptance.

With love, 

Lise Bourbeau

Learn to be happy

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