Congratulations on making it through to week three! Changing the way you behave is really hard work and you’ve done so well to get here. Have you used the worksheets? Have they helped? There will be another worksheet at the end of this post and I’d love all feedback you have about the worksheets. Last week I asked you to focus on three steps: first, to avoid using “should” for past events; second, to avoid using “should” when talking about others; and third, to stop using “should” when talking about things you can not change. These were three big steps to take, but this week we’re going to work even harder. This week we’re going to focus on how we use “should” for behavior that we can control. I know this will be a big change but I’ll be right here with you so please get in touch if you’re struggling or you have questions.
This week’s first step requires you to slow down a little. This week I want you to change your behavior before you speak. We’re going to focus on stopping before you use “should.” When you realize you are about to use “should,” I’d like you to pause and replace “should” with “need to.” Instead of saying “I should go to the gym” say “I need to go to the gym.” There will be a lot of times that “need” is not going to be a suitable word. This is going to force you to think about your reasoning. If you’re saying “I need to go to the gym” because you paid for a trainer, and it was hella expensive, and you don’t want to lose that money the phrase makes total sense.
However, if you’re saying you need to go because you ate a piece of cake earlier it’s time to rethink. Take yourself back to week one. During that week we spent time figuring out why we felt we should do something and where that message was coming from. Take a moment before you say “I should go to the gym” to figure out why you feel that way. Take a moment to decide if you really want to, or if the pressure of “should” is coming from somewhere else. If you do want to then say “I want to go to the gym.” The difference between “I should go to the gym” and “I want to go to the gym” may feel like a small change but for those of us who should all over ourselves its a huge change.
The second step is really only going to come into play when you don’t need to do something and you also don’t want to do it. It’s time to start using the other “oulds.” Poor “could” and “would” get put in a corner when their bossy sibling “should” is around, but often they are far more useful words. Since there is no big cake-god in the sky dictating whether you should or shouldn’t eat cake, “could” is a more fitting word to use. “I shouldn’t eat the cake” is super negative and judgey, while “I could eat the cake” assumes you are someone who is capable of making decisions for themselves. For example, “I could eat that cake . . . and I will!” or “I could eat the cake . . . but I won’t.”
Similarly, “I should like him” puts the onus on you to like someone who may or may not be likable. By contrast, “I would like him” gives you the power to add “if he would stop sending me dick pics.” The word “would” doesn’t imply you are awful for not liking him. Instead it focuses on the fact that he’s doing something that makes him unlikeable. “Could” and “would” are much less judgmental than should and can often be used as a replacement.
I am well aware that removing the word “should” from our vocabularies is a hard task. Also, it is just the first step to judging ourselves less. I feel passionately that if we judge ourselves less we will naturally begin to judge each other less, which will lead to a kinder world. If you know someone who uses “should” a lot please send them over to the blog. I really want us all to spread the message that using “should” (and judging ourselves harshly) can be damaging. You are all fantastic individuals with admirable qualities so please take this week to follow these two steps and begin then journey of being kinder to yourselves. You can find tis week’s worksheet here, along with the worksheets for the last two week’s here.