I should be working out right now. I should be eating healthier. I shouldn’t be on Facebook. I should should should should! Using the word “should” in your head actually makes you LESS productive and MORE unhappy.
Learn a 3-step process to get rid of the “shoulds” in your head that will empower you and propel you toward what you want.
Use this exercise during times of high stress, anxiety, depression, or whenever you notice that you are feeling more guilt and shame than usual.
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Here is the 3-Step Process, called The Should-a-Nator:
Step 1: Notice your “shoulds”
What “should” you do? Ask yourself that question and I bet you’ll get a whole flood of all of the shoulds that your brain likes to beat you up with. You shouldn’t watch that much TV. You should be buying organic. You shouldn’t have quit breastfeeding so early. You should be running like that old high school friend on Facebook who lost 30lbs.
Step 2: Ask: Do I “want” to do this? If so, replace “should” with “want.”
Next time you notice a “should,” in real time, ask yourself “do I really want to do that”?
Example: “I should be working out more. Do I want to work out more? Yes I do."
Now replace “should” in your head with “want.”
Example: I want to work out more.
Notice how that makes you feel different than “I should be working out more.” "I want to work out more" propels you forward. It motivates you.
If, every time you think “I should work out” you instead think “I want to work out” you are more likely to take the action of working out.
Shoulds make us feel weak, they make us feel like we are teenagers being instructed by the parent in our head. They make us want to rebel and do the opposite.
Self-abuse is a terrible way to motif ate yourself. If you are doing something to avoid your own harsh criticism, that sort of motivation is not sustainable. Find your want - your desire - for the result that you’re getting. Your desire for the result is the motivation that will take you from shoulding to actually taking action.
if you actually want to accomplish the “should’ then change “should” to ‘want” and work to make that change permanent. The more you correct yourself in your head, the faster you can rewire your brain for success.
Step 3: If the answer is “No” -Challenge your “should” or Schedule the task
When you notice something you “should” do, ask yourself “do I want to do this?” If the answer is “no” then it’s time to reevaluate why you are shoulding this. Is the task something that actually needs to be done, or something that you just feel pressured to do? If the task actually needs to be done but you just don’t want to do it (like your taxes for example) then acknowledge that it needs to be done. Acknowledge that you don’t wan tot do it, but have to. and then pull out your calendar and plan a time to actually do it. Just pick a day, block off the time, and plan it. Then you can let it go.
If the task is one you can let go - let it go. For example I hear “I should be making every bit of food that my daughter eats.” When I challenge that, I realize that it’s a ridiculous standard for myself. And I decide to let that one go.
Or “I should be reading more fiction books.” Do I want to read more fiction books? No I don’t. It just seems like something other women do and enjoy. Let it go.
See the difference?