How often do you hear and say the word should? It is a constant in our vocabulary, in advertisements, the mass media, and so on. Let me help you get acquainted with what is behind this word and how it might be showing up in your life.
When was the last time you utilized this word? Take a moment to ponder this. How often does this word come into play for you, even in your dialogue with yourself?
Should is an active form of self-criticism. The very word itself seems inherently negative. With the use of this word as part of our daily vocabulary and self-talk, we often create feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, stress, and frustration.
We have been conditioned by society, media, and family and friends to think that “shoulding” ourselves is commonplace, but it does not have to be. When we should ourselves, it often perpetuates the feeling of falling short in whatever it is we are doing.
This word has no place in our vocabulary. It can sneak up on us and create a motley of negative emotions. While we may engage in “shoulding” as a form of motivation, we are unintentionally creating shame and guilt into what we hope will happen in the future.
Have you ever said the following phrases to yourself?
I should be social tonight.
I should try harder.
I should call someone (friend, parent, etc.).
I should know better.
I should work out.
I should go on a diet or eat healthier.
I should do_________ (fill in the blank with your most frequent should phrase).
I challenge you to stop and take a pulse on how you feel after “shoulding” yourself. Does it create an opposite response to the intention? Rather than motivating you, does it contribute to pressure, shame, discouragement and despair? What can we do instead?
Be mindful of when you should yourself. How can you catch it in the moment, and reframe it by replacing the phrase? For example, try replacing some of your most common should statements with:
• I would like to…
• I feel compelled to…
• I will likely…
• I feel directed to…
• My hope is that I…
• I am going to try to…
• It is important to me to…
Let’s disrupt this common negative thinking pattern that can contribute to feelings of fear, worry or inadequacies. As we do this, we will find that we are putting less pressure, guilt and negativity on ourselves.
Rephrasing our should statements will help to alleviate this negative impact that affects both our mind and body. Words carry weight and can be an enormous burden on our physical and mental state. Let’s shift this energy together. Remember, oftentimes in life we don’t have to, we get to.
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