Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Don’t “Should” on Me

June 15, 2014

The above statement is one of my favorite bumper stickers. It is a reminder of one of the ways in which we both allow others to tyrannize us and tyrannize ourselves. When partners try to “should” on each other, intense conflict almost always results. “Shoulds” come from cultural, parental and peer expectations and we accept them because we need to feel loved, to belong, and to feel safe and good about ourselves.

We act on “shoulds” because we believe that they are true, and that’s how we give them power over us. If we don’t live up to our “shoulds” or to someone else’s “shoulds”, we feel that we are unworthy–a bad person. Our self-esteem is impacted and we torture ourselves with self-blame and guilt.

Look over the following list of “shoulds” and notice which impact on your feelings about yourself:

~ I should be strong or you should be strong,
~ I should always be kind or you should always be kind.
~ I should never make a mistake or you should never make a mistake.
~ I should be perfect (a particular curse) or you should be perfect.
~ I should never feel angry or you shouldn’t be angry.
~ I should always be helpful or you should always be helpful.
~ I should never feel sexually attracted to_______or you should never feel sexually attracted to anyone else.
~ I should never be afraid or you should never be afraid.
~ I should always be happy or you should always be happy.
~ I should always help others or you should always help others.
~I should never say “NO” or you should never say NO.

I would guess that you probably have some additional “shoulds” that I haven’t thought about.  If you do, I’d love to hear them.  Either way, I’d love to hear from you.  If these or any other “shoulds” are keeping you from living your life to the fullest in the way that you want to live it, I invite you to explore healthy ways of dealing with them.  Some of these “shoulds’ can feel really abusive.  I know.  I’ve been there.   It isn’t necessary to carry these burdens alone–and I definitely do not mean that you should get rid of them. It’s your choice.  I would be honored to talk with you and accompany you on your healing journey.  Please call me at 415-474-6707.  I look forward to hearing from you.



Zora L. Kolkey, MFT
License #23012
Web Site:



July 12, 2009

When we speak of “bad” words, we generally mean swear words and/or “four-letter” words.  There are other words, however, which are very important to have in your vocabulary, and on a deeper level are often considered “bad”–or, at the very least, not okay.  For instance, what do you feel when you hear your partener say, “No, I don’t want to”? There are three (3) words in that sentence, three very short words, which are very important.

When your partner uses the word “NO”, or you use the word “NO“,  it does not mean that  you or they are being stubborn or obstinate.  It means that you’re both expressing yourselves.  Both of you need to be encouraged to use it appropriately because as you get older there will be more and more occasions when you and/or your partner will want to say “NO”.  Besides which, when you say “YES” when you really want to say “NO”, you will get angry at the person asking the question and you will be angry with yourself.

Another very powerful word is the one letter word “I”.  When you speak in terms of “I”, you are expressing yourself and are also taking responsibility for what you say and do. It is your ego and you want  to feel good about yourself.  One of my daughters, while in Junior High School, once had to write a paper about herself without using the word “I”.   I was outraged.  “I” is related to self-esteem and a sense of individuality; something that should be encouraged in everyone.  It is known that low self-esteem is one of the causes of emotional and behavioral problems.

The third important word in this sentence is “WANT”.  We all want;  it doesn’t matter what it is–whether it is a new car, good health, high grades, etc.  We all WANT.  It is critical that you learn to express your “wants”.  You may not always get what you want, very few people do,  and being able to say what you want without being put down or demeaned for it is vital to your well-being.

So you see, the sentence, “No, I don’t want to”, has more meaning than just the words in it.  Accepting these words from someone, not necessarily agreeing with them, can help build a  sense of self-esteem and self worth;  can let you  take responsibility; can let you know that it is okay to want something even though you may not get it;  and can instill  feelings of being worthwhile human beings.

In relationships, it is not unusual to have misunderstandings and miscommunication with a partner, especially when expressing your needs and wants.  I would love to help you explore these issues.  Please feel free to contact me at 415-474-6707 or email me at