Why You Need To Remove The Word ‘Should’ From Your Life
How many times a day do you say what you should or shouldn’t be doing? Instead of going for that relaxing bath, you should be doing the ironing. Instead of seeing your friends, you should be going to the gym.
Should you be doing more with your career?
Is now the time you should be having children?
Should you go travelling or should you save up first?
If you analyse each day, it’s incredible to see how often we use the word ‘should’. We tell our children what they shouldn’t do or say to our colleagues what they should do.
We think the word ‘should’ is helpful, keeping us on the right, or even righteous, path. However, the word ‘should’ actually highlights the areas in life in which we think we’re failing. By saying what we should be doing, we are telling ourselves that we are not enough, our actions are not the right ones and that we must do better or more to improve ourselves.
Similarly, telling someone else what they should do, may not be seen as being helpful. Instead, saying what people ‘should’ do shows a lack of respect for their ability to make the best decisions for their needs. Alternatively, telling someone what they ‘should’ do is imposing your thoughts on how things should be. While this may be disguised as advice and support, it doesn’t recognise the true path for the other person; it tries to steer them in a particular direction.
By using the word ‘should’ are you being kind to yourself and are you being the best friend or partner that you can be?
The Should/But Problem
So often, using the word ‘should’ creates an unspoken clause to the sentence that can be incredibly negative.
‘I should be at the gym, but I’m not because…’
‘I should be preparing this presentation, but I’m not.’
By using the word should, we actually place blame and negativity on ourselves and others for what we are not doing.
Why should we do anything?
Using ‘should’ is often a societal or learnt behaviour. From a very young age, we’re taught what we should and shouldn’t do. As we get older, we are told what is expected of us. It then becomes very easy to live by the rules of what we should do.
We often unquestioningly follow these ‘shoulds’ as we think they will show us being a good person, a successful person and that what we do is the right thing to do. Understandably, this can be hard to snap out of. It will stay with many of us, and will continue to reappear when we ask ourselves; ‘what should I be doing with my life?’
However, asking what you ‘should’ do won’t lead you to finding your life purpose, fulfilment and happiness. Instead, if you are asking what you should do, it shows that you are more focused on feeling that you are right, rather than happy. It shows you are seeking approval, rather than determining your own path. We do what we ‘should’ so people will love and respect us so that we don’t have to fact the disappointment or disapproval of others.
But, this is not a fulfilling way to live.
In actual fact, there is no right or wrong. The path you forge should be your own and in a world of constant change, what was right in the past may not be right now. What was a good choice for someone else, may not be a good choice for you.
How to get rid of ‘should’
Stop being a supporting actor
It can be hard to take control of your own life, especially when you have strong influences in your life. Whether it’s from your family, friends or partner, their support is great, but it’s important to remind yourself that you shouldn’t be playing a bit-part in your own life.
Instead, try to look at each hurdle or stumbling block as a way to inspire how you want to live your own life. If something doesn’t make you truly happy, try to find a way for you to use these issues to become a better, bolder you. Just like a superhero has to overcome obstacles, sometimes the problems you face are the only way to set you on the narrative you want your life to be.
Replace ‘should’ with its benefit
Not using the word ‘should’ will not mean that you can ignore all the tasks you are not motivated to do. However, you can switch the negativity of ‘should’ with the positivity of the benefits of doing it. As a result, you become more energised in your decision.
For example, instead of saying ‘I should go to the gym’ change it with ‘I feel great after visiting the gym and love the effect it has on my body’.
If you cannot think of the benefit that you can really resonate with, then instead focus it on your values and the person you want to be.
For example, instead of saying ‘I should deliver this work on time’ replace it with ‘I want to be someone who is reliable and acts with integrity, I want to do something when I say I’m going to do it.’
By reframing the chores, the mundane and the ‘shoulds’ with the positives about yourself, it becomes much easy to not only find your motivation but also to find your true purpose in life. Of course, it will take time to remove should from your vocabulary. But, with each slip of the tongue, try to mindfully correct yourself, making yourself more consciously aware of when you let ‘should’ get in the way of living your best life.
In next week’s post, we’ll go into more detail of how you can find your life purpose when you feel like you’re living in a life of ‘should’. If you feel like you should be happy, but you are not totally there yet, then next week is a must-read for you!
As always, if you’re struggling to be a lead character in your own life, then I’m here to discuss your needs. Just phone the team on 0207 971 7677 to book your free 15-minute consultation with me.