If you have been reading my posts for a while you might have realized that I believe in the power of words, for example, my previous discussion of “weight loss” versus “weight release”.
Today I would like to discuss the word “should”.
If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard someone say, “I really shouldn’t be eating this!” as they bit into a sugary treat….
Have you found yourself uttering this phrase? Or do you commonly make statements like, “I should start that diet everyone is talking about” or “I should start an exercise program”?
I’ve found there are:
Past shoulds: “I shouldn’t have had that second piece of cake!”
Present shoulds: “I shouldn’t be eating this!”
Future shoulds: “I should really start a diet!”
I believe that all forms of shoulds have the potential to be toxic.
Past shoulds are often correlated with regret and shame. Unfortunately, those feelings don’t help you make progress in your transformation.
Instead of regret, when you have made a choice that doesn’t align with your values, use it as a learning opportunity and move on. Don’t dwell on it. There is nothing you can do now to change what happened in the past. Instead, you can change the present and the future, but not by using the word “should” with wild abandon.
Present shoulds can be toxic because they infuse the now with judgement. When you bite into a treat and you say “Oh, I shouldn’t be eating this”, you are sending a negative message to your brain and body.
If you are going to have a treat, smile as you eat it, enjoy it, luxuriate in each bite! Don’t poison the experience with judgement.
Future shoulds are empty, guilt laden promises. Saying “I should start an exercise or nutrition program” means nothing! Either you start one or you don’t. Don’t judge yourself every day by making “should” statements about what you should or shouldn’t be doing.
I love the movie “Amistad”, for many reasons, but there is one scene I think about a lot. Cique’s character, a man captured from his African village for the pre-Civil War slave trade, explains his confusion about an American’s use of the word “should”. Cinque states that there is no equivalent word in his Mende language. Either you do something or you don’t.
Think about that for a minute. In Cinque’s language the word “should”, and all its judgement and empty promises simply didn’t exist!
What would your life look like if you were free from the word “should”?
Thoughts? Comments? Send them my way! I’d love to hear from you.