“Should I Stay Or Should I Go? – Unearned Contempt versus Unearned Love

Post by “Should I Stay Or Should I Go? – Unearned Contempt versus Unearned Love

Spike. Wally. Shep. Big Dave, because there’s a Little Dave. Dallas. 

These are some of my nicknames. 

I love them all. 

They make me feel seen and loved. 

Nicknames are earned love. People love you and then they give you a nickname. 

But when I hear one of my nicknames, I hear “I love you” without having done anything in that moment to have earned it. Everytime, it feels like beautiful, unearned love. 

It’s remarkable when love can be expressed in just a single word.

What nickname do you have for yourself?

You don’t have a self-given nickname!?! 

I do. 


“You should lay off the ice cream, DICKHEAD.”

“You should take out the trash, DICKHEAD.”

“You should get off YouTube, DICKHEAD.”

DICKHEAD loves to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do. 

“Don’t should on yourself” is a lesson DICKHEAD and I haven’t taken to heart. 

But any leader, or parent, knows this is a losing strategy. Telling someone what they should and shouldn’t do never works.

Despite knowing this, we “should” on ourselves all the time. It’s the opposite of hearing our nicknames called out by a loved one. 

It’s unearned contempt instead of unearned love. 

Every “should” is a subtle admission that we are not enough. That who we are is not worthy. That we are not lovable. 

Should is really a mechanism of shame… There's a saying that says that shame is the locks that keep the chains of bad habits in place… Energetically, it's oppressive. Intellectually, it's control-based. Emotionally, it's rigidity, and neurologically, it's a threat. If you say to somebody, "You should really do that," there is a threat in that. - Joe Hudson, Art of Accomplishment podcast

Last week I wrote about shame. And a “should” is just another form shame takes. 

I’m on a warpath to eliminate “should” from my vocabulary, my thoughts, and my body. 

DICKHEAD, you should stop using should on yourself. 

“Spike, you got this!”

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Dave Shepherd

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