“…conflict will inevitably arise so long as there is a division between ‘what should be’ and ‘what is’, and any conflict is a dissipation of energy. We are always comparing what we are with what we should be. The should-be is a projection of what we think we ought to be.” – Krishnamurti
I love this idea – I mean love it.
Krishtamurti is saying that the only reason that we have conflict in our lives is because we place a division between what “should be” and “what is.”
I cannot tell you how many hours I have wasted and the amount of energy that I uselessly have expended worrying about ‘what should be’ rather than dealing with ‘what is’.
My day starts with a certain amount of energy, depending on my sleep, exercise, and eating habits as of late. We burn calories and need to restore them through food. We burn mental calories and need to restore them through sleep. I would hate to waste my precious mental calories unnecessarily.
But, sadly, I do.
A co-worker stole my idea, a parent said something unsupportive, a teacher gave a lower grade and I am upset. I am upset because what happened is in conflict with what I believed should have happened.
The mental energy I have spent never changed the outcome – no matter how many hours I have spent thinking about the conflict between what happened and what I think should have happened.
My point is that ‘what is’, is.
However, I can take action from ‘what is’. I can make changes from ‘what is’. I can say something based on ‘what is’, but I cannot change or bend reality to meet my version of what I believe ‘should be’.
And taking action from ‘what is’, is a must. Because there is no other option – we cannot take action from a “should be” because “should be’s” don’t exist.
Indecision is The ‘Should be’ Motivator
Why do we spend so much energy on the narratives around “what should be?” Is it because we are so morally outraged that we feel a need to repeat the moral disparity between our view of what should be and what really occurred?
Or are we avoiding the conflict within ourselves? When I am extremely clear within myself, I do not waste time or energy on what should be. I simply make peace and let go of conflicting views and move on with my day.
My conflict stems from a lack of acceptance of what I believe and what I think I should believe. I am lost in a narrative because I am defending my “should be” position to myself by rehearsing it over and over.
Emotional Reality Workout.
What if you spent one day simply accepting everything as it is unfolding. That is not to say that you cannot take action, it is just to say that you fully accept that it cannot be any other way than the way it is. Or, in other words, let go of the ‘should be’s’ and all the narratives that go along with the ‘should be’s’.
- Awareness. The next time something occurs that you feel ‘should be’ otherwise:
- Notice the emotion welling up inside that wants to elaborate on a long narrative to justify the emotional outrage, sadness, or whatever emotion you experience.
- Change your narrative. Start using sentences around what is. “Ok, I am not happy that my neighbor said that, but now what do I really want to do?” Or, “My partner or spouse was just super annoying, hurtful, or selfish, but what do I want to do with that information?” In other words, the moment that stirs up an emotional narrative does not have to steal your day, week, or even longer. It can be an opportunity to learn to accept what is, say what you want, and move on.
- Find personal clarity. Are you rehearsing your view because you are not sure how it “should be?” Ask yourself what the belief in question is. Stop worrying about the other person and make sure you are clear on your own stance.
- No silent spinning. You can choose to leave the moment alone and say nothing. But you cannot continue to rehearse the issue in your mind or with friends later.
- Limit your focus and attention to a subject by ½. If you spend a day worrying, try ½ a day. If you spend an hour, try ½ an hour. Why would you want to expend all your precious energy on the difference between what you think ought to happen and what did happen.
- Take massive action based on ‘what is’. It is your only choice. Life is not how we believe it should be, but how it is. Tell the neighbor that the comment was hurtful or accept your boss’ personality shortcomings. Explain your position about ‘what is’ and then move on.
Let the world around you be as it is. When faced with a difficult situation, decide how you feel and what you want to do with that situation, not the situation you think should have occurred.
Ready to feel re-energized without another double latte? No more sleepless nights filled with stress over the conflict between how your life is and how you feel your life should be. Recapture and refocused your energy on ‘what is’ and find a meaningful outcome instead.
Thanks for reading, as always. Drop me a note at, firstname.lastname@example.org – love to hear your thoughts, comments.