It is an interesting phenomenon when people problem solve for us with phrases like, "You should..." It usually reveals the motives, fears and aspirations of the person talking.
Now, I know it can be annoying when parents and authority figures say it. My Mother's favourite mantra was. "You should..." It often annoyed me and gave me pain - especially during my teen years when I was super insecure about myself, my body, my place in the world. I did not feel like I was enough by myself. I saw it as unwarranted, constant criticism. It was offered whether I wanted it or not.
I wish I had have known what I know now about 'should' phrases. If we are clever, we can learn from these phrases and take the personal out of the statements we hear. Did you know that people often project (unconsciously) onto us what they are thinking or judging about themselves? If you exchange "You should..." with "I should..." it makes more sense.
For example, my mother was quite dominatng and gave out advice (criticism) like it was her job to correct the world. My mother was very unfulfilled in her life. She never worked after she married and it is obvious to me now that Mum needed something more to achieve than being a mother and a wife. Her hobbies did not fill the gap inside of her. But I think that she lost her confidence to go back into the workforce or to follow her dreams.
My mother's favourite mantras were probably similar to the ones you hear. They went like this:
"You should lose some weight." "We were proud of you when..." "Your natural hair colour is so beautiful..." "Never be a housewife..." "You should be an artist..."
But... What was she saying really?
"I should lose some weight."
"I wish I never left europe."
"My hair is going grey and thinning."
"I hate being a housewife."
"I want to go live in an artists' colony."
I really noticed this phenomenon of projecting (acutely) recently during a visit with a family member, because her mantras of unsolicited advice sounded exactly like my mother's. This lady's projections were very similar. She was obviously feeling unfulfilled being a housewife. It was a case of deja vu indeed. She said, "Ghita, you should buy a place in Tasmania, find a rich farmer husband and..." (Note: I have never been to Tassie and I have no interest in farming. Which she would know if she knew me at all.)
But you see, she was sowing her unconscious/ semi-conscious thoughts. (Hold this space for whether this family member does in fact end up being married to a Tasmanian farmer.)
Importantly, no one likes unsolicited advice, right? But consider that it is just projection. When your parent, family member or righteous friend/ colleague takes captaincy of what you should do with your life, remember that you can rebel, feel annoyed, feel oppressed and dominated OR... You can look at it in a different way and reframe the statement that they offer as wistful thinking. Not "You should... but "I should..."
You might say to yourself, "Eureka! I wish I had have thought of that before."
Sometimes, "You should...", "You must...", You ought to...", "You seriously..." "You never...", and "Why don't you...?" are projections of that person's limiting beliefs, career ceilings, beliefs about money and status, unfulfilled dreams, fear, self-doubt, feelings of insecurity etcetera. And sometimes people would rather throw a solution out than to really listen to you.
Anyway, I hope this blog helps to deal with people who offer unsolicited advice.