I am starting a 3 part series about something that matters a great deal to me — removing the word should (or shouldn’t) from your vocabulary. Should is a guilty word. It shames us. Should is a word that we often use to prevent ourselves from doing things we want or forcing ourselves to do things we don’t want to. Should guilts us into doing things rather than motivating us. I’m going to be sending out a worksheet with each blog post from the series to help you keep track of the steps and to help you move forward to removing should from your vocabulary. If you’d like to receive the worksheets please signup below.
We often use should when we have assigned a moral value to something that doesn’t need one. We decide that eating cake is bad and dressing a certain way is good for no real reason. We say “I’m being bad, I shouldn’t have a second helping of dinner.” For a long time I thought I shouldn’t wear a bikini without ever giving thought to why. There are hundreds of articles out there explaining to us why women of a certain age, or skin tone, or size shouldn’t wear certain items. Very few of us take the time to think about the motivation behind the should. Once I stopped to realise there was no God of bikinis who was declaring them unwearable for fat girls I was able to give myself permission to wear them. The first step I’m going to ask you to take this week is to start noticing when you use the word should and when you do I want to to ask yourself why. See if there is a good reason such as you actually shouldn’t eat sugar out of the sugar bowl as you are diabetic or if it’s some unknown authority making the rules.
See if you can remember when you first heard that you shouldn’t wear a certain kind of clothes or eat a certain food. Try to remember who said it and what was their motivation? Does the statement involving should motivate you? Thinking about how you should go to the gym isn’t usually inspiring. As you’re going through your week and noticing when you use should take some time to think about how it makes you feel. When you tell yourself you should go to bed at a certain time how do you feel? Do you want to conform or rebel? Do you feel guilt or defiance? Think about how the statement with should affects your mood. If you feel you should go to the gym at lunchtime and then don’t does it put you in a negative space? How long does the feeling last?
It’s very important when starting to break a habit to notice the habit first. Don’t worry about changing your vocabulary yet, unless it comes naturally. Spend this week working on four steps. First, notice when you use should or shouldn’t. Second, think about why you feel you should or shouldn’t do something. Third, try to remember who first told you that you should or shouldn’t do the thing. Fourth, focus on how you feel when you tell yourself you should or shouldn’t do the thing. It may seem scary at first but it’s important that you don’t place judgment on yourself for using should. If you’d like to download the worksheet to help you keep track of this week’s steps please join the email list here.