In my work with individuals I often hear the “should” of inner and outer judgement planted by these sayings. People doing their best to deal with painful illnesses, trauma, and heart-breaking losses tell me again and again that they “should” be able to do better, be happier, to let go of fear, or sorrow and "get over" what is happening "faster." It makes my heart ache to hear the coals of suffering heaped on top of what is often real pain.
Often, yes. And sometimes we're swept along by pain, or grief, or fear, or unconscious material (which by definition isn’t accessible to choice until it is brought to consciousness.) Of course sometimes we can make choices- to do inner work, to be with those who support us, to ask for help, to take good care of ourselves- that will expand our ability to cultivate happiness, forgiveness and gratitude, make us more available to love. But the assertion that it's just a matter of choosing to be a certain way can prompt us to shove experiences that don’t align with this assumption (our moments of feeling unhappy, unforgiving or ungrateful) into our unconscious where they shape and limit our choices without us even knowing it is happening.
It can be scary to simply sit with the fact that in any given moment real choices are shaped and sometimes limited by inner and outer conditions. Of course, conditions change- and we can actively choose to change or work toward changing many of them- and this can expand and deepen the real choices we have.