“Should” is a Dirty Word

How often do you catch yourself saying you should be doing something? What is usually the result of that? For most people (myself included) giving ourselves should messages often results in feelings of guilt or even shame. If we think we should be doing something that very statement suggests that we are not doing something. It implies that we are slacking or somehow not following through with a commitment. Not a very encouraging thought.

Should statements can come from many different sources. Often we tell ourselves we should be doing something based on what we think family or friends expect from us or what our employer wants from us. We also place shoulds on ourselves based on messages we get from society. Should messages are sneaky and often we don’t realize we are putting this pressure on ourselves. They come in all shapes and forms of varying pressure (i.e. I should be doing house work instead of watching TV, I should exercise, I should go to post-secondary school because everyone I know has, I should get married and have kids).

Now I get that life isn’t all roses and lollipops and sometimes we need to do things we don’t want to do. Should statements are different though, they are about big picture happiness and well-being. Pay attention to how often should sneaks into your vocabulary and see if you can replace the word with something else. Do you notice anything different? If we replace should with a word like want, we are taking ownership of our choices and being accountable. It is no longer about what others expect from us, but about what we expect from ourselves. Powerful stuff. Who knew that should was such a dirty word?!



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