Undoing Shoulds: 

Before Adam, Eve, and the Apple

Returning to the Garden of Eden


What Others are Saying about “Undoing Shoulds”


Table of Contents


(not YET customized for mobile-phone viewing)


After reading the first nine pages, 

you’ll be able to decide whether to continue...

⇒ Full disclosure: I’m still on probation after my almost three decades of ankle-bracelet detention in the House of Good and Bad.


Brief prelude—


Before I tell you about my decades-long incarceration inside the House the Good and Bad, what does it mean to live inside that house?


Living inside the House of Good and Bad (HOGAB, which is pronounced “hoe-gabh”) refers to our habit and addiction to see ourselves, others, and the world through the judgmental glasses of “shoulds.” We see others, as well as ourselves, with these glasses. These judgmental glasses often express themselves in our thinking and speaking:


  • should and shouldn’t, 

  • good and bad, 

  • right and wrong, 

  • selfish and unselfish, 

  • fair and unfair, 

  • just and unjust, 

  • deserving and undeserving, 

  • worthy and unworthy, 

  • normal and weird, and more. 


The limitations of judgmental glasses.


Not only do these glasses severely degrade our ability to make better choices for ourselves and others, they also inflict many costs. These costs run deeper and are more pandemic than most realize. They include:


  • guilt, 

  • shame, 

  • blame, 

  • arrogance, 

  • resentment, 

  • resignation, 

  • defensiveness, 

  • impatience, 

  • poor health, 

  • bad relationships, 

  • shyness, 

  • loneliness, 

  • low self-esteem, 

  • lack of motivation, 

  • depression, 

  • jealousy, 


  • insensitivity, 

  • perfectionism, 

  • over promising, 

  • procrastination, 

  • bossiness, 

  • being disrespectful, 

  • feeling overwhelmed, 

  • feeling unworthy, 

  • feeling not good enough,

  • boredom, 

  • postponing real life into the future, 

  • being a victim, and more….

  • jealousy,

      “I don’t believe there’s two sides to every story. It’s black and white. There’s right and wrong.”

-Joe Wurzelbacher (an American conservative activist, a HOGAB resident, 1973-)


       Keep up the good fight, Joe! Do you think that will make you happy? Are you happy with your relationships with others?


       “What is the American dream? The American dream is one big tent. One big tent. And on that big tent you have four basic promises: equal protection under the law, equal opportunity, equal access, and fair share.” -Jesse Jackson (American civil rights activist, Baptist minister, politician, and another HOGAB occupant, 1941-)


       Jesse, good to know that you are adept at using fuzzy words. You’ll be able to hoodwink more people that way. And, frankly, maybe it’s impossible to be a successful politician without some hoodwinking. I can appreciate your dilemma. 


       “People don’t realize what’s really going on in this country. There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust. People aren’t being held accountable for. And that’s something that needs to change. That’s something that this country stands for: freedom, liberty and justice for all.” -Colin Kaepernick (American football quarterback and HOGAB regular, 1987-)


       Colin, were you training to be a politician?

       Okay, now to share about my jail time in the HOGAB:

       I gave some bad boys bloody noses.

I was deeply addicted to righteousness, especially as a child, teenager, and into my early 20s. I was the good guy, especially as I compared myself to the bully boys in the countryside school I attended in Flat Rock, South Carolina. At six years old, at someone’s birthday party, I fought with three different bad boys and gave each one a bloody nose. Their mothers were upset with me...but I was right and I knew it. I felt no guilt or remorse for hurting them. I enjoyed the juiciness of my righteous anger.


"There really is no difference between the bully and the victim. I would like to do a psychological autopsy on as many bullies and victims as possible ...how do we understand what breeds hatred, what breeds anger?" -Lady Gaga (American singer, songwriter, and actress, 1986-)


I don’t know enough about Lady Gaga’s fuller thoughts to say whether I would agree with her. However, I am certain about two things regarding the bullying I remembered: 

  • I am certain that my righteousness contributed to others continuing to bully me, and 

  • they felt they were justified in their behavior (they saw themselves as the good guys). Perhaps I was even a bully in few circumstances and just don’t remember it as such.

I turned righteousness against myself.