As you become an adult, you need to figure out which “should” rules to keep, and which to let go or revise. You can think about where the rule came from, and if it still serves a purpose. For example, if Jenny’s family struggled financially when she was young, the first rule above may have helped conserve resources. It may no longer be financially necessary for Jenny to deny herself an occasional indulgence. In addition, Jenny’s current cultural and social norms may be more encouraging of self-care and individual nurturing, than they were for the previous generation of women. So, if Jenny re-evaluates the first “should” rule above, she may discover that it no longer accurately represents her perspective on right and wrong choices.
The second “should” rule above is more likely to hold true for more people. Since it originated to protect marriages and families, especially according to societal and religious norms, most couples will feel that it still serves that purpose. Even if Jenny decides to end the affair and keep this rule for herself in the future, she (and her marriage) can still benefit from figuring out why she decided to have the affair at all, since she knew it was going against her “should” rule.
Re-evaluating your “should” rules, to make sure that they reflect your own true perspectives, can help you make decisions that are fully your own, and that don’t trigger guilt when it’s not warranted based on your individual internal guidelines. This way, your choices can be your own, based on your personal perceptions of right and wrong. Though these perceptions will likely incorporate other influences, only you can make the final determination. If you’ve established your set of “should” rules, and you still make a devilish choice, that choice is telling you something about yourself. Violating a “should” rule, especially a big one, is significant. It can help you move forward in self-awareness and understanding, and help you make more active decisions in the future, if you can figure out why you did what you did.
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