Little did I know that the hero’s cape is poisoned with shoulds.


We all have that friend, you know … that friend who loves to give advice, especially when their advice is unsolicited.


I used to be that friend; I thought it was my mission in life to tell others what they should do with their own life situation.



Have you ever had a friend like that?



Did it occur to me back then to pay heed to my own words? Most of the time, no. I was too busy giving advice to others!


For example, I would say things like,  “Oh! You have a headache? You should take an Advil.” or “Ouch! Your back is hurting? You should go lie down.”


Any argument coming out of the other person’s mouth as to why they needed to take charge of their own life situation in that moment, I was quick to retort, “Tut, tut, tut!” while fretting upon about what I thought should be done.


After all, I gave advice because I thought I knew better than those people.


In those days, I was certain that I knew what to do to fix things.


In my mind, I believed I knew exactly how the other person felt about what was happening to them and what to do about it. Therefore, I was quick to say, “You should do this” or “You should do that.”


I don’t know about you, but I so badly wanted to be a fixer back then; I looked for what I thought was wrong in people’s lives and I tried to fix it by telling them what they should do.


Little did I know that the hero’s cape is poisoned with shoulds.


But shoulds are killers!


Shoulds kill ideas and dreams faster than a bullet because they leave very little room (if any) for:

  • curiosity

  • exploration

  • feeling

  • discerning

  • loving

  • caring

  • infusing

  • equalizing

  • building, etc.


If I take an Advil for a headache, does this mean that Suzy or Joe should do the same?


Maybe in Suzy’s or Joe’s cases, taking an Advil or a nap might cause more harm.


Who truly knows what another person needs exactly?


This is why we all need room to freely explore.



I love how the Chinese translate the word ‘advice’ in Chinese Mandarin: 建议 (jianyi)


These two Chinese characters taken separately mean:

建 (jian): to build, construct, erect. We 建 (construct) power stations, bridges, roads, etc.

议(yi): opinion, view, exchange.



Together, these two Chinese characters mean

建议: the building exchanges of ideas 



According to the Chinese language, to give advice is to build ideas one upon the next.


In that context, giving advice has nothing to do with telling another person what to do, how to be, what to think, or how to feel. It has everything to do with freely exchanging ideas to our own individual betterment.


Maybe this is what Confucius meant when he said,


The essence of knowledge is: 

having it, to apply it;

not having it, to confess our ignorance.


In the past, I gave advice because I was unwilling to confess my own ignorance at paying heed to what I personally needed to do.


Keeping that in mind, let me ask you:


What is the cost to you for all your shoulds (unexplored possibilities)?



Here’s my tip for you today:

  • As you go about your day, remember that our shoulds are directed towards ourselves—what we personally need to do to remedy our own ignorance. If that is true, perhaps a good question to ask ourselves is, ‘What is it that I need to learn and apply in my own life situation right now?’


I wrote this article because I needed to learn and apply better how to share without giving advice.


What do you need to learn and apply in your own life situation right now? I’d love to know. Please leave me a message or drop a comment below.


Your EQ coach,



My name is Anne Beaulieu and I am an Emotional Intelligence coach who is recovering from a life of shoulds. Now I assist others make themselves the priority in their own life. You can reach me at


Photo by Jean-Frederic Fortier on Unsplash