I know that, generally speaking, those telling me what I should or shouldn't do have my best interests at heart. They mean well and I'm grateful for that.
And, of course, many of the voices we hear from childhood upwards are giving us advice that is incredibly useful. You should exercise regularly, eat a balanced, nutritious diet and avoid drinking to excess to increase your chances of living a long, healthy life. And with that end in mind, it's only sensible not to mix water and electricity, drink bleach or jump off tall buildings.
You see, forewarned is forearmed - we must be aware of all the things that could go horribly wrong. If you're ever feeling too perky, just watch the news. You'll soon remember that the world is a perilous place with threats lurking around every corner; you should know how to keep your head down to avoid getting it shot off. Take the necessary steps to ensure that you stay safe - and don't upset anyone else. If you don't do as you're told, Something Bad could happen.
Fearfulness and caution are perfectly understandable responses; going against the flow could make us vulnerable.
However, those imperatives - the SHOULDs, MUSTs and DON'Ts - often become an encouragement to reign in or 'manage' our natural instincts - which has a tendency to result in anxiety and internal conflict.
Don't get angry
You must be thinner/sexier/beautiful
Don't be so emotional
You must work harder
You should be a better parent/son/daughter
Don't let them see you're vulnerable
You can't have those things
Don't rock the boat
You may also have heard a voice that tells you: You should do better, You must do more or You can't do that. And chances are it was inside your own head.
It seems that those fears and limitations imposed on us by the world in general have a tendency to creep inside and become our own self-imposed limitations - a mantra of diminishing returns or, if you prefer, the sticks we like to beat ourselves with.
Say them often enough and you'll really start believing them too. Before long, you'll be sure that you don't have what it takes, you can't do that and you genuinely aren't good enough.
However, there is an antidote. The voice that says: You can. You're allowed. You have the choice. And sometimes that's all it takes to start addressing those limitations.
It's the voice of permission. And with it comes freedom.
Sometimes, it will be someone else who gives you that permission - the person who allows you to laugh, cry, shout, scream or simply let go, but you can find that voice in yourself too: I can. I'm allowed. I have the choice. I am good enough.
And, to quote Marianne Williamson, "...as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."