Do you SHOULD on yourself?!
How often do you tell yourself, “I should have done ___,” or “I should have known ____,” or even “I shouldn’t have done ___?” When we break it down, what is it that we are really telling ourselves?
I have thought about this a lot as the word should has been in my vocabulary since I was a little girl. I was often told, “You should have known better” simply because I was the oldest. Just because I was the first one to be born, I never understood how that made me have all this innate knowledge about what to do and what not to do in life. Wasn’t I just figuring it out too? I wasn’t given the chance to learn, but rather given the expectation to know. That is hard for any child to comprehend.
Being the oldest taught me a lot that I am grateful for, it taught me to always watch out for my brothers, but it also conditioned me in certain ways that I don’t see in my younger siblings. For me, should feels shameful and, at times, embarrassing. Why? Because it is a reminder that ultimately tells me I let someone down, that I didn’t live up to expectations or I have fallen short in some way. Should has never been a positive in my life and speaking with clients and groups I work with, I have found that most people feel the same way. Should is a negative. They feel this way because of the feelings that should expresses to oneself and sometimes to others, or is associated with.
What does should mean? The first definition (see below) of the word refers typically when criticizing someone’s actions. Yup! Negative. The second definition states the word was used to indicate what is probable. This definition could go either way, depending on the context of what is being said.
- Used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions. “he should have been careful”
- Used to indicate what is probable. “$348 million should be enough to buy him out”
So why even bring this up? Because it is SO tied into our negative self-talk! We often say we should be at the gym, we should have lost 5 pounds this week, we shouldn’t be drinking a Mocha Chocalatte or we should be eating healthy, as we are stuffing our mouths with whatever indulgent food craving we are trying to satisfy ourselves with at the moment. It’s harsh!
Think of this…. According to a study at Cornell University, we make more than 200 decisions a DAY about food! TWO HUNDRED! If you are shoulding on yourself before and/or after each thought, you are badgering yourself 400-600 times a day! No wonder making healthy decisions is so hard. Before we do anything, we’ve got to clear all of this junk out of our heads and drive that negative self-talk out, before we make even one decision.
So this week….I would like to challenge you! Today, notice how often you say should to yourself. Is it positive or negative? Can you make it 5 days without saying should? I will spend the next 5 days being mindful of shoulding on myself.
Will you accept the challenge?