I want to discuss a word that has been on my mind quite a bit lately. This word has plagued millions of people with guilt and shame and I believe that if we reduce the number of times we use this word I believe that all of us can reduce the level of guilt we have in our lives. This word my friends is the word ‘SHOULD’.
The most insidious fact about this word is that it affects millions of people without ever crossing the person’s lips. What do I mean by that? I am referring to our thoughts.
In cognitive psychology it is believed that our thoughts create our emotions and how we think about a situation will trigger an emotion.
Let’s take a look at how this word operates in our everyday thinking.
When you use the word ‘should’ in relation to yourself it can create a damper on your self-worth. For example:
“I should take out the garbage”
“I should do my homework”
“I should make some client development calls”
In each of these statements you are beating yourself up for not doing something which only makes you feel badly if instead you say:
“I want to take out the garbage”
“I can do my homework”
“It would be nice if I made some client development calls”
You are not beating yourself up and thus the likelihood that you’ll actually do it will increase significantly.
Now when we use the word ‘should’ towards other people we can become angry and irritated because we’ve created a condition or rule in our mind that someone else is not living up to and thus we get upset. For example
“They should give their seat up to the old person”
“She should be more considerate”
“He should be a better friend”
Compared to respectfully saying, “Excuse me sir this old man looks like he could really use a seat do you mind?” or “It would be nice if she was more considerate however maybe she just lost a family member”. In regards to being a better friend based on what? Why should that person be a better friend? Obviously if you’ve mentioned something and that person does not reciprocate in the way that you would like than remove the ‘should’ and replace it with ‘it would be nice if’ and then forget about it. His actions are no reflection on your self-worth.
As you can see a lot of the frustration and guilt we create can be reduced by eliminating the word ‘should’ in relation to yourself and towards others. I hope you are just as excited to avoid should as much as I am and the only thing you’ll regret is not doing it sooner.