Are You "Shoulding" All Over Yourself?


Are you a chronic "should-er"?

You know what I mean. A chronic should-er sounds like this:

"...I really should be exercising more..."

"...I should fold that stack of laundry..."

"...I should call my friend Marguerite to see how she's doing..."

"...I should be doing this..."

Doesn't feel very good, does it?

Perhaps you haven't noticed that using the word should automatically sounds heavy and burdensome. "Should" is rarely exciting or motivating.

The fact is, words matter.

The words you choose will hugely influence how you feel.

Care to do a little experiment on this?

I did this with a client the other day and it was quite powerful.

Let's take a should statement about a couple tasks that are usually not very exciting:

"I should declutter my office..." 

"I really should do my taxes..." 

Read both of these sentences aloud and notice how they feel.  

How do they each feel?

They don't sound fun or motivating at all; do they? 

Now let's substitute the word should for the word need, which is slightly less charged: 

"I need to declutter my office..."

"I really need to do my taxes..."

Now read these aloud and notice how they feel. 

Does that feel any different?  Say them both one after the other and notice whether they feel any different. Perhaps for you need feels lighter; or depending on your personal relationship with the word need, perhaps it feels worse...

Now let's replace need with want and notice how that feels:

"I want to declutter my office..."

"I really want to do my taxes..."

Read them both again, slowly.

Now how does that feel? 

Do you notice the subtle shift in your energy with each of the variations?

Now try this next one:

"I'd like to declutter my office..." 

"I'd really like to do my taxes..."

Notice how when you start using the words want and like you start tapping into your intrinsic, genuine motivation for doing the thing you might have been avoiding. The task itself may not be enjoyable, but when you say want or like you start to connect with the reason why you want them done. You connect to your desire for the result.

Often, we might do something more readily if we want to do it than if we should do it. So we can use this to our advantage and help us lighten the burden of our shoulds.  

Of course, how heavy your shoulds actually feel is highly dependent on your own personal history. 

So where do you typically should all over yourself?

Find a task that you typically procrastinate on, or tell yourself you should do, and try the 3 modifications. Notice how you feel with each.

Every time you catch yourself thinking or saying "I should..." try to immediately replace it with either want or like.

To recap:  try replacing "I should..." with

  • I need to..
  • I want to...
  • I'd like to... Or even "I like how... makes me feel."