Stop Shoulding on Yourself

by Kayla

How many times have you said the words “I should” today? These are statements like, “I should de-clutter my house,”“I should meditate,” “I should get up early to exercise,” “I should eat less sugar.” The list of the usual “I shoulds” could go on and on. Are you a Should-er? If so, how do these statements make you feel? Are you motivated to start these things and are able to sustain them if you do start? If you are the person that is not motivated by this kind of self-talk, keep on reading; this is for you!

Somewhere along the road of our development from childhood to where we are now, we turned our wants and desires into “I shoulds” and obligations. With so much information easily at hand with the technology we have access to, we can easily educate ourselves on best practices for literally any aspect of our lives. For some people, that can be an information overload. Since we tell ourselves that these are things we "should" do and not what we "want" to do, we end up having a hard time sustaining those behaviors. This often leaves us with feelings of failure, guilt, and being overwhelmed.  This can really mess with our ability to perceive our overall happiness and satisfaction of life. After all, being happy and satisfied with our life is what most of us are striving for, right?

If you want to stop being a Should-er, you might want to consider following these steps:

  1. Write Out Your Personal Values: What drives your soul? What are the most important things to YOU? Once you figure these things out, try to align the “shoulds” that come up in your life with your personal values. If you know why you are working on something and are doing it to fulfill a value, you are more likely to be successful. Here’s an example: Say one of your top values is the well being and happiness of your family. You say to yourself, “I should start exercising.” Now try and think about how your exercising habits can influence your family. It could be something along the lines of “If I exercise more it will allow for me to be able to have enough energy for me to keep up with my family and will help me stay healthy so I can stay around longer to see my family flourish.” Need help determining your values? Here is a guide to aid in the discovery of your values.
  2. Change The Way You Talk to Yourself: Check out the dictionary definition of Should. For the most part it has a negative cononation attached to it. When we talk negatively to ourselves, we can spiral into thinking negatively about ourselves too. Try replacing the word should with want, will, or can. You might notice that just replacing that word makes the phrase feel better as it is leaving your mouth. By putting a positive spin on the internal conversation we have with ourselves we can believe that it is positive and makes us feel better about pursuing the change that we want to make, not should make.

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