life coach & mentor


Don’t Should on Yourself

October 11, 2021

I read a post on Instagram yesterday which included a list of advice, including removing the word ‘should’ from our vocabulary. I wholeheartedly agree with this and I’ll tell you why.

Photo by Gui Spinardi from Pexels

Telling yourself you should do something – lose weight, start going to the gym, write that book, call that friend, whatever it is, is a sure fire to procrastination and avoidance. The more you should on yourself, the less likely you are to carry out that action once, let alone on a regular basis, if that’s what you are hoping to do.

When you say you should do something, it sounds meaningful, important, like it’s a good thing you are not doing, but you would be more virtuous if you did. However, in reality, ‘should-ing’ all over yourself usually will just make you feel worse and provides no sustainable motivation whatsoever.

When I tell myself I should do something, it feels heavy, and a drag. I feel guilty for not doing it sooner or more often. Nothing good comes with it. It does not generate a good feeling, and therefore, it does not drive me to carry out the desired action. Or if it does, it’s usually not a very pleasurable exercise.

So, how we can end the shoulds?

  • Stop using the word should.
  • Ask yourself if you really want to do whatever it is. If you don’t want to really do it and you’re not contractually obliged to do it, don’t do it. You’re an adult.
  • If it is something that you are genuinely interested in doing, what is your hard why? Your hard why is the reason you really want the result of this action. Is it true for you and do you want to do it?
  • If yes, then choose thoughts and words that are more inspiring and compelling. Sometimes it can be quite a simple exchange of wording that will lead you to think differently about taking action. For instance, saying “I want to eat more healthfully” can create a lighter, more determined feeling in us, than “I should stop eating junk food”. Say both of these sentences to yourself and notice how each one makes you feel.

The magic here is the feeling you create within yourself that will inspire and motivate you to take the desired action. You need to be clear about what you really want, why you want it and then think thoughts and say words that will generate a feeling in you that will drive you to take the desired action.

All of our actions stem from our thoughts and feelings. Once you understand how powerful your thoughts are, you can intentional think ones to create any result you wish. Practice generating these thoughts and notice how they make you feel. Be intentional about what you want to create and be true to yourself. Don’t use this process against yourself to do things you really don’t want to do. The fact is you are an adult and you get to make those choices, just because you want to, regardless of what anyone else thinks. The only opinion you need to worry about is your own.

Next time catch yourself if you’re thinking you should do something. Ask yourself if you really want to do it. Regardless of whether you want to do it or not, like your reasons. Choose empowering thoughts that will create motivation to move forward. Choose carefully.

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