You don't HAVE to

One phrase I find overused is "I have to ___". The truth is, 99% of the time, you don't "have to". "Have to" implies you really, absolutely Must.Do.This.Thing. Even though you'd rather not.

Take, for example, laundry. You don't have to do it - and certainly not when you claim you "have to" - you choose to do it then, perhaps to conform to the societal norms about appearance, perhaps as a way to get out of some other less-appealing chore or task. There's perhaps an obligation involved, but you could choose not to.

It's rare that the "have to" really means "If I don't, there will be dire consequences" (see Terry's posts about his health and slowing down). So what if you pong a tad? Who really cares if you haven't thanked someone for a gift? Will the world really end if you don't return that book immediately?

Alice often says "don't should on yourself". One of my goals for 2006 is to stop shoulding and saying "I have to ___." What about you?

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