The unfortunate power of the word “should.”

Let’s all practice the art of “letting go of the ‘shoulds.'”  What I should: want or do.  Or how I should: feel, be and act.  The “shoulds” will get you every time.  They can be based on cultural expectations, familial expectations, your own expectations, career expectations etc.  The list goes on.  But rarely do they reflect what you WANT or what you NEED.

Years ago, I was talking with a neighbor and confessing where I wanted my life to go. However after my passionate speech, I followed it up with, “But I really should…”  Luckily my neighbor stopped me.

She said, “Beware of the ‘shoulds.’  I lived the first part of my adult life completely controlled by what I ‘should’ be doing.  I was miserable.  The second I let go of the power of ‘should’ my life starting to change into a life I wanted.”

The first step is just noticing when you throw out the word.  Be a little detective with yourself when you say “should.”  Try to discern if the “should” is in alignment with the life you want.  The beauty of adulthood is WE get to decide what we want or need.

For example, sometimes the exercises we practice for self-care are not enough, and we need additional help from trained professionals.  What happens when you hear someone say, “Have you ever thought about therapy?”

Does your brain start to flood with “I should be able to handle this on my own.”  Or “my culture doesn’t believe in therapy.” Or “It’s really not that bad I’m sure it’ll all work out.”  If so, remember those are essentially “shoulds” even if they don’t have the word in them.

Years ago when  I started going to a therapist,  I remember feeling initially quite frustrated that my work appeared to affect me more than my colleagues.  But I also knew I needed help.  The second I let go of “why do I need this and they don’t” I started down a road of healing and recovery.  I also learned it is really not interesting or important why I need things that others don’t.  In the words of Brene Brown, “Stay in your lane.  Comparison kills creativity and joy.”

So your mission for this week, is to pay attention to the words you use.  Let them serve as clues uncovering the life you want.

Take care of YOU.





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