When "should" is a dirty word


Are you guilty of shoulding all over the place?


I should go to the gym today.

I should eat healthier.

I should meditate.

I should write a blog post.

I should do my expenses.

I should email my mom back.

I should clean my apartment.

I should make more time to see my friends.

I should go to bed by 10pm.

I should be much further along in my career/finances/relationship/life.


Now that’s a whole lotta “shoulds”.


I don’t know about you, but just reading that list of shoulds makes me feel icky.  It’s such a complete and utter energy drain.  No wonder diets fail, gym memberships go unused and we often feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.


When you say “I really should do this”, what you often mean is “I’m doing this because it’s something that I think I’m supposed to do”.


Whether you’re doing something because popular culture tells you to or you are simply striving to be a “good” friend, daughter, wife, or professional, the problem with this kind of should-based living is that you neglect and starve your unique sense of self.   You are left feeling unfulfilled, confused and perpetually hungry to find what it is YOU truly want out of life.


I struggled with this for a long time.  No matter how much I accomplished, I could never understand why I always felt like something was missing from my life.  My inner dialogue went something like this: “I should be happy and yet…”.  I felt incomplete.  It’s taken me a while, and I am by no means perfect, but I have learned that I shouldn’t do anything other than what feels right for me.


I’ve learned to be mindful of the should.


If this resonates with you, I want you to try this re-framing exercise to help you when your inner critic begins shoulding all over the place.


Next time you catch yourself using the word “should”, try this instead:


1. Take a deep breath

2. Accept where you are in this moment…lovingly

3. Get out of your head and tap into how you want to feel

4. Reframe the thought


You want your actions to come from a place of “I want to do this” rather than a place of “I should do this”.


In my case, I feel so fat, this skirt looks AWFUL




This skirt doesn’t fit as well as it did a couple months ago…and I love myself anyway.


I should go to the gym today, UGH




There’s a spin class on at 4pm with my favourite instructor and she always makes us work up a killer sweat. Besides, I always feel great after a workout!


Do you see the difference?


When you change the dialogue in your head to one that is kind and compassionate, it empowers you to live a life that is happy, healthy and fully expressed.  Just remember to be gentle.  You are, after all, reprogramming years of old patterns and will likely still catch a case of the shoulds now and then.  And that’s perfectly okay.  Keep bringing yourself back to how each decision aligns with your core values, and give yourself permission to take responsibility for your life on your own terms.


Now I want to hear from you. 

Are you living a should-based life? What shoulds should you do? Share with me in the comments below!