The word “should” suggests an obligation, duty, or correctness and is used typically when criticizing actions. “I should have been there.” “I should not have done that.” “I should not have said that.” When you use the word should, you’re not accepting your reality, and it indicates inaction which results in feelings of guilt, incompetence, failure, lack of control, or can lead to depression. It’s basically a dead-end word that creates pressure based on what you are supposed to be/do -- what someone else might want or expect rather than what you genuinely want. The word lacks motivation-kinda like deconstructive criticism. If you “should” yourself too much, you may be holding yourself back from living in the moment, and motivating yourself for the future. Here are some ways to stop “shoulding” yourself:
1. Self-awareness: Try to catch yourself when you say the word. If you’re not aware of it, then you won’t change it. You may be surprised how often you are scolding yourself with this word without realizing it.
2. Be more specific: Should is often used in a vague manner. “I should be better about exercising.” “I should not have behaved like that.” Instead, be more specific: “I plan to walk three times a week outside with my dog.” “Speaking when I’m angry only makes things worse, next time I will allow myself the time I need to calm down and gather my thoughts.” Get in the habit of working through “should” phrases more specifically. It’s motivating!
3. Try these alternative phrases: I want, I will, I can, I am, It’s important to me that, or I find value in. Also motivating!
The words we say to ourselves matter. Eliminating the word “should” from your vocabulary is a great place to start. With some self-awareness and practice you may find yourself happier in the present and motivated for the future.
Counseling is a great way to work on thinking positively and productively. Call A Little Counseling, and we can help you ditch the word “should” along with every anxious person’s favorite phrase “what if” 😉 You
should CAN do it!