The trap of “should”

The man who gets constantly rejected by women starts to complain how women “should” be interested in him because he’s nice. The employee shunted for a promotion starts to complain how the company “should” reward them for their hard work. The student turned down by their top choice college starts to complain how colleges “should” base their decisions solely on standardized test scores.

This is the trap of “should”. When dealing with rejection and failure, it’s easy to imagine how the system “should” be. This habit is worse than wrong. It is counterproductive. Someone who has an unbudging belief about how the system ‘should’ be will demonize the practical steps needed to improve. The spurned man refuses to dress better, acting salty as women choose men who put effort into their style. The employee will work longer hours as others who take the effort to market themselves climb higher on the corporate ladder. The student will double down on studying as interesting candidates get a spot in their Ivy league college.

It’s easy to start calling these other activities evil or stupid. ‘A man shouldn’t care how they look’, ‘Negotiation is for opportunists’, ‘Other students don’t study as much as I do’. What’s hard is taking the conscious effort to get better. It requires coming out of one’s comfort zone to do intimidating stuff. Yet at the end of the day, it’s the only true solution.



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