Years ago, my friend Liane faxed me a brilliant drawing of a woman looking a bit like me with her hand raised. The caption reads ‘I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses’. The front page, addressed to me, said “HUPO week”.
We’d had one of those late night chats about the word ‘should’ and what a spiteful, negative word it is. We’d agreed to spend a week not using it and being positive. The deal was that if one slipped out, we’d put our hand up to mark it and compare notes. Hence, hilarious fax – Hands Up Positivity Only.
To be honest I can’t remember the details of the rest of the week, but I’ve been mindful and watchful of that word ever since. Thinking about it now, I’m considering doing HUPO again. Maybe I should.
See what I mean? Soon as I say that, even in this light context, I immediately feel beholden. And now I’ll feel bad later on if I don’t do it: something else to add to my guilt list.
I observe my clients, almost without exception, beating themselves up about where they find themselves. That word only seems to come in useful for self-recrimination: “I really should have sorted this out years ago”, “I should make more time to do exercise”, “I should get rid of that, I’m so old”, “I should be able to do this on my own”, “I shouldn’t get rid of this it was so expensive”…
Obviously, being human, I’m far better at challenging others about their use of that word than I am at challenging myself. I think it would be useful for me to have another HUPO week. It’s a good feeling to offer someone the opportunity to re-word their shoulds and to consider how to re-frame them. I’d like to do that for myself.
So – I’m going to continue to confront the ‘shoulds’ my clients come out with. And if you see me with my hand up, I hope it’ll be because I’ve got something to say.