Stop Shoulding On Yourself!
06 May 2015

Stop Shoulding On Yourself!

I am very excited to introduce a guest blog post by Chrissa Trudelle.  Chrissa is currently a physical therapy assistant student who has struggled with her cycles off and on for over a decade.  Chrissa loves running, asking thought provoking questions and analyzing the world around her. Her blog posts deal with the emotional side of our lives:  how do we make the decisions we do, decision making fatigue, the internal conversations we have with ourselves, etc.


Take a look into your daily vocabulary or internal monologue, and take note of how many times a day you catch yourself saying the S word. No, not that one! I’m talking about another S word that’s far more toxic: SHOULD. “I should ____” .

The problem with “should” is that it implies you have an external power forcing you to do something, and consequently you are falling short of a particular expectation.

Should can turn the recreational into run-of-the-mill, and the daily mundane into drudgery. If a mother says to her child “we should bake cookies together over your spring break,” she just turned something fun into a checklist item.

If you are watching a show and thinking “I should really be vacuuming,” you are telling yourself you are an irresponsible human being for enjoying life instead of completing chores. Chances are, you will either begrudgingly submit to your personal order, or keep on watching the show and feel guilty about it.

Should rarely precedes meaningful change because it does not foster intrinsic motivation. Acting under “should” is often a fast road to burnout. Without knowing it, we have created an entire list of “should”, but we are paralyzed with inaction. When we use the word “should,” we have inadvertently given ourselves permission not to follow through with the behavior.

When placing a “should” on another person, the statement can make them defensive at a subconscious level, even if that person is yourself.

Take a look at your list of “should” statements and check its validity by asking yourself why to each question.

For example, Should I vacuum now? Says who? Maybe the floor is fine and you can kick back. Or maybe vacuuming today would bring you relief from your allergies.

stop shoulding

For lasting change, try redirecting your should statements into something more empowering, for example:

  • I should read more research articles→ I could expand the dimensions of my mind, and be more successful in my career if I read more research articles. I will begin by…
  • I should clean my room→ I am excited to open up more space in my mind by de-cluttering my living space.
  • I should exercise more→ I would feel more confident and energetic if I exercised regularly.

Don’t forget about the “shoulds” you place on other people. “Shoulding” others can quickly cause someone to be defensive and closed off to what you have to say.

  • You should join my discussion group → Have you ever thought of joining a discussion group?
  • You should read the book Gone Girl→ Considering what you have told me about other books you have like,  I think you might enjoy Gone Girl.
  • You should come camping with us→ I hope you can make it to the camping trip. We would love to have your company.

Notice all the statements to the right of the arrow provide freedom and accountability. Eliminating this word from your vocabulary is well worth the effort!


Notes on shoulding from Dr. Gray:

One of the reasons I was so eager to share this post with all of you is many times SHOULD is what prevents us from improving our health.  How many of you have said, “I should change my diet, I should make an appointment with my doctor, I should start going to bed earlier?” Should has a nasty habit of creeping into our lives and sabotaging our successes.  This week I hope you will try to catch yourself and change your “should” to an action verb: I am, I will and leave me a comment below. Let me know how you feel with this little change.  Little changes like these will help you feel that you can control your endometriosis and bring it to an end. mental healthshoulding should

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Chrissa Trudelle

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