The word SHOULD can stop you in your tracks and prevent you from doing the things you WANT to do!
I stopped using the word should years ago when I realized that every time I said “I should do this” or “I should do that’ … I didn’t do it. Whenever I told myself I shouldn’t do something, I kept on doing it.
It took me years to figure it out that the word should was a roadblock … a BIG brick wall. I also realized that if I told other people that “they should,” it too would never happen.
The bottom line here is that using the word SHOULD can stop you in your tracks.
Why are we so resistant?
In my case the resistance started when I was a kid. I was constantly being “shoulded upon.” Should meant I had done something wrong, or I wasn’t doing something right. Should was most often used when connected to something I did NOT want to do.
It didn’t take long for me to start resisting a should, even when I wanted to do that thing.
As a kid I was an avid reader, I was constantly reading and at the ripe old age of eight, my mom had to accompany me to the library to get me an “adult book clearance.” At that time, if you were under 14 you could not check out books in the adult section. The first book I checked out after obtaining my adult reading status, was The Diary Of Anne Frank. Sheesh, Anne Frank started writing her diary when she was 13 … why did you have to be 14 in order to read it without parental consent?
I am pretty sure, my habit of reading 3 – 4 books a week was because both my mother and especially my father kept on telling me I shouldn’t read so much, it would damage my eyes.
Yes, I brush my teeth even though I was constantly told I should. But here are some things that I never do, even though I SHOULD.
Brush your hair a 100 times a day. (I’ll do it when YOU do it).
Make your bed (haven’t made my bed in decades … well, maybe once or twice).
Clean your house every day (you have to be kidding me!).
Watch your language. (I DO, just not the way YOU want me to).
Vote (I might resist, because in MY perfect world, politicians SHOULD be honest!).
Here’s my favorite. “You SHOULD get a REAL job and stop wasting your time with this writing nonsense.” LOL I am still hearing that from my mother, FOUR DECADES after setting up my freelance writing company.
According to the Oxford Dictionary should is often: “Used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticising someone’s actions.” [https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/should]
Who wants any of those?
Do you like being obligated?
Do you really want something to be a duty?
Well … maybe some aspects of correctness. I DO like reading articles and books with correct grammar.
And who wants to be criticized? I always equate being criticized with someone shaking a finger at me. EeeeeK!
The word should is also used by people who would like to shove reality aside. Yes, maybe you SHOULD lose some weight, be smarter, get a better job, make more money … but in MY experience if you tell yourself you should, you probably won’t!
In a better world: People should be kind, they should be honest, there should be no hate mongering and prejudice. The problem is, telling the world what it should be appears to be falling on deaf ears.
My favorite should fantasy is … The sentences judges hand out SHOULD be fair. Murderers SHOULD go to jail for longer than someone who smoked a joint! Someone whose negligence kills 16 people (many of them teens) and injures 13 more SHOULD go to jail for longer than 8 years even if he is sorry.
People keep telling Donald Trump that he should smarten up and stop tweeting stupid things. Yep, maybe he SHOULD … keep on dreaming!
I’m sure you can come up with hundreds of unrealistic SHOULD dreams. Feel free to add some to the comments so we can all laugh!
OK … join me as I roll on the floor laughing …
What SHOULD you do instead?
Hmmmm. Maybe I SHOULD rephrase that.
What CAN you do instead?
1. Start noticing when you use the word should. Get a should buddy … help each other identify your shoulds (grammar police – this word theoretically doesn’t exist)
2. When you start telling someone (especially your kids) what they should do, ask yourself WHY? When someone shoulds all over you, ask them why they think you SHOULD do it.
3. Test out the following six options, see if it changes how you feel.
Replace should or shouldn’t with: I could
I could go for a short walk. I couldn’t possible eat another morsel.
Replace should with: I will
I will go for a short walk. See how that compares with I could go for a short walk.
Replace should or shouldn’t with: I want to or I don’t want to
I want to go for a short walk. I don’t want to
Replace should with: I can
Replace should with: I need to
Replace should with: I must
Be very careful with I need to and I must … test them out and see how you react, how you feel.
Yes, I am aware that there ARE other uses of the word should, and that using the word should is often appropriate in a conversation or when writing.
But DO pay attention when you or others tell you what you SHOULD do. And do pay attention when “What SHOULD be,” gets in the way of reality.
I’d love to hear from you? What are your favorite SHOULDS? What SHOULDS are your favorite reality blockers, or create your perfect version of the world?