the word should

Are You ‘Shoulding’ All Over Yourself or Others?

General Insinuation of The Word “Should” – A judgement toward acting otherwise

The word “should” is the ultimate judge and jury of words. It has the power to create, and the power to destroy. This is one word you MUST master.

In my experience, “should” is one of the most powerful words that one can say. The impact is not as immediate as cursing, or racial slurring, it has a more subtle, yet profound impact. This is what makes this word even more dangerous, it can slowly suck the life out of you, and/or others when used improperly. It can also breathe life back into you, and/or others when used advantageously.

First, you must be aware of every single moment you use the word “should”. Without awareness, this word can have astronomical influences on your subconscious mind. This then leads to emotions, and behaviours that may be empowering, or dis-empowering you.

Destroying Your Relationship With Yourself

For you to say to yourself that you should do something, really means you won’t do it, although you think it is in your best interest to do so. When using this word during your self-talk, shit will never get done. “Ya, I should put in more effort in at work to get that promotion, and ultimately make more money (but I won’t)”.

Talking to yourself like this breeds complacency. Imagine if you actually accomplished all of your current “shoulds” in life? Where would you be? What would you be doing? Who would you be?

Not following through on your “shoulds” in life will eat away at your own self-image. Over time, as each “should” compounds on each other, you start to view yourself as irresponsible, a procrastinator, and someone whose dreams will never become a reality because you NEVER follow through! This will slowly destroy your relationship with yourself, as you wallow in self-pity for not living the life you know, deep down, you were brought to this earth to live.

The solution to you shoulding all over yourself is to turn your shoulds into MUSTS. Most people will go to great lengths to ensure they preserve their identity, and going back on their word negatively alters their identity. Next time you catch yourself saying you “should” do something, turn that should into a MUST and watch what happens.

Telling Yourself How You “Should” or “Shouldn’t” Feel:

“You shouldn’t feel this way” or “You should feel this way instead” – Sound familiar?

The outcome of telling yourself this is one of resentment towards yourself for feeling the way you do. You are allowed to feel however you want, always remember that. How you respond to those emotions is ultimately what matters most.

This is where having a strong Emotional Intelligence comes in. Learning how to change how you feel in an instant is one of the most powerful tools you can learn. For this to happen though, you must accept your current state of mind. Telling yourself that you “should” or “shouldn’t” feel a certain way stems from non-acceptance.

Destroying Your Relationship With Others

Imagine you decided to do something nice for your spouse (or anyone for that matter), a little out of the ordinary. You are feeling really good about it, even proud of yourself for the accomplishment. When they find out what it is you did for them they say “Thank you very much, but you should have done it like this.” How would that make you feel? Probably like your efforts weren’t acknowledged, and your way of doing wasn’t good enough because you “should” have done it their way?

They have made a judgement that your way is inferior to their way, and they would have preferred it their way. How does it make you feel to know your result was undermined and unpreferred in comparison to theirs? Like they are ungrateful for your efforts? How do you think you are going to behave towards this person in the future after this incident? Will you think twice about going out of your way in an attempt to contribute to their happiness? Feels shitty, doesn’t it? Can you see how this will slowly destroy relationships over time?

So remember this, next time you are about to tell someone they “should”, most of the time this is the meaning they will extract from your words and feel the exact same way you just felt!

 Telling Others How They “Should” or “Shouldn’t” Feel:

“You should be happy I did this for you” or “You shouldn’t get upset over something so small”

Telling someone how they “should” or “shouldn’t” feel is really a slap in the face. I got news for you, people are allowed to feel however they want to feel. If you don’t like how someone is feeling that is YOUR problem.

This is something that happens all the time! I used to have a terrible habit of doing this, and have witnessed how it weakens relationships. I witness other people doing this extremely often. They don’t even understand how damaging those words are.

Think back to a time when you were feeling a certain way and you were told that you “should or “shouldn’t” feel a certain way? How does that make you feel? Angry? Resentful? You probably ask yourself “who the fuck do they think they are? I can feel however I want to feel at any given moment!”

The Ultimate Example – Bereavement

Western society has been conditioned to mourn the loss of someone, typically for weeks, months, and sometimes years. If we are not upset enough, according to our own beliefs (or others), we must not care. Not all cultures respond this way to death, as different beliefs breed different responses.

We have been conditioned to a point where if we even have the smallest thought of enjoying being alive while we “should” be grieving, we condemn ourselves.

If we see someone post a picture on social media, and they are all smiles, only 3 days after losing a loved one, what is a typical judgement (whether said out loud or thought)? “How can this person smile right now? They shouldn’t be out having fun, they just lost someone close to them! They should be sad, they should be miserable, do they care about what just happened?”

Instead of this meaning that they don’t care, ask yourself, what else could this mean? Here are some ideas:

  • They have grown a new appreciation for being alive, and are eternally grateful for life
  • They have different beliefs than you
  • They know how to make themselves happy when they want to, regardless of circumstance, and maybe what you’re really feeling is envy because you can’t do that if you wanted to
  • They were thinking of all the great memories with that person, instead of all the regrets and all the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” of their past with this person (which is what many people do)

Turning The Tide

Utilizing “Should” For Self-Realization And Achieving Dreams

Although the word “should” gets condemned, typically because of the judge-mental context it implies, this same context can be used to empower yourself, or others, if used wisely. It is okay to judge yourself if done for the purpose of moving toward self-actualization and away from self-deception.

4 Empowering Questions That Use The Word “Should”

  1. What “should” you be doing in your life that you are not currently doing?
  2. What are you doing in your life currently that you know you “should” not be doing?
  3. What “should” you know about yourself that you tell yourself you do not know?
  4. How “should” you use this information to achieve your dreams?

The power of each of these questions is that they presuppose that you already know the answer to the “shoulds”. Utilizing “should” in this manner can create breakthroughs and break down any walls of self-deception. If you actually follow through on answering these questions, you will understand that you have been limiting yourself, telling yourself a story, and deceiving yourself. Relieving yourself from these limitations and lies will take your down a road of fulfilling your potential, self-actualization.

Try This

For the next week, be aware of any time you think the word should, you say the word should, and hear the word should from others. Pay attention to how you feel when it happens. Were the feelings empowering or disempowering? How else could the same thought or words have been said, without judgement?