Whenever I hear myself use the word “should” it never sounds like my own voice. It sounds like someone else is telling me what to do.  It sounds like unsolicited advice from someone I don’t know.  Neither of these things make me want to listen or take action on anything.  And on top of that, the rebel in me responds with “Absolutely not!”  

I used to “should '' all over myself a lot more. And by that I mean saying things like

I should be stronger than that by now.

I should be doing what they are doing.

I should have started earlier.

I shouldn’t have eaten that.

I felt so worried, ashamed, and guilty. I felt pressured and behind in life. These are the feelings that I experienced whenever I “shoulded” on myself.  The word “should” brought my attention to the things that I was NOT doing.  It showed me everyone else’s actions and successes and it showed me my own shortcomings.  I wasn’t even aware I was doing this to myself until I learned about the impact that words have on my daily life.  ONE WORD can made such a difference in how I see my world.

So I started paying attention to when I use the word should.  I was surprised to learn that I used it alot in the gym and even when I would coach.  I noticed I used it when I would compare myself to others. The more I noticed all my “shoulds” the more they started to sound like the fitness industry trying to tell me to be a certain way, or another person pushing their opinion on me, even if they meant well, or outdated societal messages that simply weren’t relevant to my life.

Yes, sometimes the word “should” still makes an appearance in my daily communication. And because I have spent time paying attention to when I “shoulded” on myself the most, now I know what to do when it happens. I can check in with my feelings around the “I should” statement. If I feel shame, guilt or pressure, then I search for who’s voice it sounds like.  If the voice is not mine, then I can reply to the “I should” statement with. “I am exactly where I am supposed to be.”  I refocus my energy on myself, where I am at and where I want to go. 

Here is another thing that I have noticed. Sometimes my goals and desires hide themselves behind the pile of “should.” I have caught myself saying thing like, “I should be doing more strength training.”  And I love strength training. So if I am starting to miss out on this activity that I love, then this “should” is illuminating a goal or desire of mine that I have neglected.  In this case, I make a simple shift from, “I should” to “I can” and find a simple way to add this goal into my life again. 

So get out your poop bags and start cleaning up your big piles of “should”. Pay attention to 3 things

  • When are you using the word “should” the most in your daily life?

  • What feelings do you experience when you use the word “should”?

  • How can you refocus your energy onto yourself and the things that you want?

For more on the word “should” and what to do about it enjoy this video episode!