Stop Should-ing on my Parade
We all have an endless list of should’s in our heads.
I should run 5 miles today.
I should finish that report.
I should do laundry.
I should be having more sex with my husband.
I should call that friend back.
I should have saved more money.
I should stop making should lists.
This endless list of shoulds continues to pile, leaving you feeling like you should be a different person.
The reality is those lists won’t turn you into the best you. And even if you miraculously became a You (version 2.0) you would probably recreate another list of new should’s that need to be checked off the list.
We self impose a lot of expectations on ourselves. Some of them are helpful, but most of them get in our way of becoming the person you want to be.
I’ll take an example from my own life.
I often tell myself, I should finish writing that research paper/project. This thought usually arises over the weekend when I have more free time. But on a typical Saturday afternoon I don’t want to do anything work related. Instead I want to catch up with friends, edit photos, and watch trashy tv shows. So I rebel against the “should list” and do what I want to do, while feeling guilty for not working on the project I should have completed. This leads to me starting my week feeling behind because I should have followed through.
The whole process is basically self-sabotage. I set my expectations too high, don’t meet the goal, and then feel like crap afterward.
But what if I simply changed my wording. Instead of saying “should” we could reframe it to “can.”
“I should be more productive” becomes “I can be more productive.”
“I should be nicer to people” is now “I can and will be nicer to people.”
The word can evokes making a behavior change, whereas should feels like a burden. Saying I can do something, also assumes you have the skills to make those changes. It also makes you remember have a choice in what you do. Yes, you can choose to not eat that bad food and get behind on deadlines!
Try it today. I know it’s Monday and you’re tried, which is all the more reason you CAN try out this new technique now! Think of what you CAN do and not what you SHOULD be doing.
Now it’s your turn:
What SHOULDs do you want to remove from your life? Better yet, what CAN you do today?