We all know it.
We all use it multiple times a day.
It’s the “S” word that is dominating our lives.
No, it’s not “Shoes” (although they do play a major part for me!)…No, it’s not Sugar (though many of us do indulge from time to time I’m sure)…No, it’s not S&@t!
How many times a day do we use the word “Should”?
“I should lose some weight”
“I should clean the house”
“I should have done that faster”
“I should have remembered that”
“I should eat healthier”
“I should drink less”
“I should exercise more”
“I should be doing something which is fulfilling”
“I should be a better mum”
“I should be doing better at work”
“I should see my friends more”
Should, Should, Should, Should, Should.
In fact, it’s fair to say that we spend a large portion of our lives “Should-ing” all over ourselves.
The question is…”Why SHOULD we?”
Is it because other people think that we should? Is it because we have been told that we should? Is it because society says that we should? Is it because we have the words of people in our past echoing in our heads? When we say that we “should” whose standards are we using to decide this?
There are really four elements to this “Should” situation.
The first is that so many of our “Shoulds” aren’t even ours, so many of them come from other people – Partners, Parents, Friends, Media…we are being influence by those around us all the time, even if we’re not consciously aware of it. Let’s be honest, how many of us would feel such an intense pressure to lose weight if it weren’t for the hundreds of images of skinny celebrities, pop stars, and actresses we are being bombarded with every single week? How many of us have heard friends or family who don’t seem to have an ounce of fat on them say “Oh I really have to lose a few pounds?” Or have heard one of our girlfriends say of someone else “Ooh, she really shouldn’t be wearing that”? Every time we hear someone make a statement like this, our brain takes note and questions whether or not we SHOULD be thinking the same thing.
How about “I should be doing better at work”…where does this come from? Is it from your boss? Your co-workers? If this belief has appeared because you have a boss whose expectations are completely unrealistic, who is so out of touch with what you do that they have no clue what is feasible with the time and resources you have (sound familiar ladies?)….then why do we take it on?
The really interesting thing about statements like “I should do better” is that when we look at it closely, we don’t even know what it really means. Better than what? Better than who? How will we know when we’re doing “better”? In spite of this, we still repeat statements just like this to ourselves on a regular basis. It could be argued that we’re setting ourselves up for a fall…
What about the phrase “I should have done that faster”? Rather than focusing on what could have been improved, wouldn’t it be better for us to take a moment to recognise and acknowledge the fact that we have completed a task which was on our “to do” list? If we recognised and rewarded ourselves for things that we have done well (or just for things that we have done!) rather than focusing only on the negative aspects then who thinks that we might be enjoying life a little more…?
You see the challenge with the word “should” is it implies some sort of deficiency. If you use the word “should” you are suggesting that there is something wrong, and that you have a reason (no matter how illogical or unreasonable) that the situation has to be different….which often leads to guilt…and in the case of us ladies, a lot of it.
If these “shoulds” aren’t even ours, then why do we spend so much time feeling bad about them?!
So step 1 in solving our “Should” problem is first, to work out whether they are actually ours. Our beliefs, our thoughts, out standards.
Next time you hear yourself say the word “Should” (whether it’s out loud or just in your head), ask yourself honestly “Why Should I?” Do I really think I should, or am I just repeating someone else’s words? Does it really matter to me, or am I doing it to please or appease someone else? Make sure that the standards that you are holding yourself to really are YOURS.