What if eliminating one word from your daily vocabulary could change your perspective and how you live your life? Would you do it?
Last week, I had the opportunity to be a guest on Influenced: The Podcast (airing on August 21) and was asked what the best piece of advice is that I give my clients. Without any thought, I responded that it was to eliminate the word “should” from their vocabulary. This is typically one of the first things I ask a client to do. (often this happens within the first 15 minutes of a session.)
Daily I meet with women who are shocked at the number of times they state the word should in a conversation. Sadly, should has become such a common part of our internal dialogue that ,like my clients, most of us are unaware of what saying it truly does to our mental health and daily functioning.
Using the word should is automatically critical and blaming for not meeting some unknown standard. The word should comes along with guilt, judgement and is truly all about the expectations of others. The use of should brings about anxiety and impacts our daily internal narrative and long term mental health.
I first became aware of the frequency and use of “should” as a grief counselor. Client after client would enter my office and comment.
- “I shouldn’t be feeling this way.”
- “I should be doing better than this.”
- “I should want to be around others. ”
My reply would often be a question “Who says you should?” This is also were I reminded my clients that there was no one way to grieve (simply healthy and unhealthy) and each of them needed to work through their grief in the way best for them.
Using the word should is saying you are not doing the right thing. It states your values are not the right values. You are not doing enough and whatever you do is not good enough.
How many times have you used should toward yourself or toward another (partner, coworker, child, friend) today? When you tell someone (yourself included) they should be doing something, you are not offering advice but criticizing what they are doing.
The use of should automatically brings about anxiety and leads one to believe they are living their life wrong and doing it another way is the correct way. (This is what you do to yourself every time you say should.)
Recent comments from my clients have included:
- “I should be doing more to start my side hustle.”
- “I shouldn’t be so tired all of the time.”
- “I should work out more.’
- “I shouldn’t be unhappy with my marriage.”
- “I should contact my friends more often. “
Rephrasing statements to include ” I would like to add more vegetables in my diet.” “I want to make more time for my friends.” “I would like to find the best time for my side interest.’ is much more positive and brings about hope rather than negativity.
The reality is there is not one best way to live our lives. (Healthy and unhealthy as I’ve shared with my grief clients.) We each have to discover the paths that are best for us. Thus, there will never be just one guide book telling us how to live our best life. As a result, there really does not need to be the word should.
Begin to make changes in your daily dialogue by changing the “sh” to a “c” or “w”.
- “I would like to change my diet and workout routine.”
- “I could get up earlier to work on the book I want to write.”
Do you need to eliminate this word? How will doing so change your life?