Making the shift
Shoulding: The cognitive distortion of making statements of what should be true, as opposed to reality.
It’s time to stop shoulding all over yourself.
This basically just means creating a ton of pressure on yourself to do or be something, based on what you think you’re supposed to do or be, rather than who you are and what you want. I’ll be the first to admit that I still engage in this subtly toxic behavior from time to time. But recently I’ve made an effort to omit the word from my vocabulary, and let me say this: Life becomes much more fulfilling once you make the choice to intentionally monitor your consumption of the word “should.”
You can spend your whole life doing what you thought you “should” do, only to realize it didn’t get you where you wanted to go, you didn’t enjoy the journey along the way, and you’ve got nothin’ to show for it. Unlike the coulds and wants, which are real things we can actually pin down and identify, there is no objective, real thing we “should” do.
How often do you say any of the following?
I should go to the gym more often.
I should meditate more regularly.
I should save more money.
I should drink more water.
I should try to attend more events.
I should network.
I should engage more.
I should read more.
Here’s the thing with should: if you are saying you “should” do something then, plain and simple, you're not actually doing it.
Each “should” you pile on yourself, adds another unpaid obligation you now have to undertake to come into an integral relationship with yourself. You are creating the energy of owing something to yourself, something you “ought” to be doing but you aren’t and to top it off, it denotes that you are very guilty.
Life becomes much more fulfilling once you make the choice to intentionally monitor your consumption of the word “should.”
The shame of the “shoulds” is very real and very powerful and not in a good way. Let’s talk about what this means and what you can do instead so you can be incredibly empowered.
The belief we “should” do or be something is rooted in other people’s expectations — not our own. When we think we should do something it’s because our family, friends, religion or society has convinced us it’s the right thing to do. And our brains end up hardwired to think it's true. But the “shoulds” are often not something we actually WANT to do. If it was, we’d refer to it as something we want to do instead of something we believe we should do.
Here are some ways to break the should cycle:
Become more self aware. Start paying attention to how often you are shoulding yourself throughout your day. Consider each instance and ask yourself questions like: Why should I? Who says I should? Do I really want to do/not do this, or is it society’s norm that is telling me what to do? Once you discover the origin of the “shoulds” in your life, you can decide which ones make sense for you. Remember: Your decisions and choices are yours to make. Live your life the way you want to live it and not the way someone else thinks you should.
Make the Shift. Instead: replace “should” with “I want…can…will…am”
It’s a mindset shift that changes your inner dialogue and helps relieve the pressure and fallback. Remember shoulding does not imply change or action. It perpetuates the cycle of inaction. This will help you get to a place where you make and own your decisions, you’re in control of your experience, and you’re living in the moment being present. This removes the stress and feelings of obligation around “should.”
Do what you WANT. Set aside time (I recommend an hour per day or one day per week) to banish "should" from your vocabulary and do what you want. Consult your inner guidance and ask yourself, “What do I really want to do now or today?” Notice how good it feels to do what you want rather than what you should. Observe what happens to your energy.
Remember: Your decisions and choices are yours to make. Live your life the way you want to live it and not the way someone else thinks you should.
Set an intention. Intentions are powerful tools and the starting point for manifesting what you want (not what you should do) in your life.
Cut the doubt, cut the disappointment. Replace it with encouragement and excitement to grow better, in a healthy and happy way.
Constantly shoulding yourself is a dangerous trap that keeps you from distinguishing what you truly want for yourself and for your life.
Stop asking yourself what you SHOULD be doing, and instead ask yourself what makes you feel complete, happy and alive!
The language we use matters. Using more accurate and powerful language has an amazing way of elevating your self-awareness, as well as signaling both to yourself and everyone around you that you are in charge of your own life.