"Should" I Really?

I believe the word “should” needs to be removed from the English language. Or at a minimum, if you want to have a happy, fulfilling, empowered life, to remove the word and the concept of it from your vocabulary.

I started to noticed my aversion to the word around 15 years ago when there was someone significant in my life who used the word quite frequently.  He prefaced many of his actions with “I should” or “we should”. I began to notice how I felt when he said that.  My whole physical energy would change and I would feel completely deflated and tired.  I felt completely disempowered.

It took some time later until I realized why it bothered me so much. Between 15 years ago and now, I have extensively studied self-development and changed myself and my life dramatically.  In this blog, I want to share what I have discovered about the word “should”.  As you read this, I would respectfully ask if any of this resonates with you.

When using the word “should”, we immediately disconnect ourselves from what it is we truly want.  Who decides what we “should” be doing anyways?  Our society places huge expectations on all of us to as to what is considered acceptable behaviour and lifestyle choices.  Do we automatically do those things because that is what everyone else is doing?  Often I believe this is the case.   Perhaps we all just want to fit in.  Why would we want to fit in with everyone else, when we’ve lost sight of fitting in with ourselves?  It seems like we all assume that there is somebody else out there who knows better than we do.  

I often ask people people what it is they truly want in their lives and what are their greatest dreams.  I am astounded at how many people don’t know what they want.  How is that so many people don’t know what they want? 

Are we so concerned about what we should be doing, that we’ve completely stopped thinking about what we want to be doing? I believe this can be the case sometimes. Life will always be riddled with expectations.  It is up to each and every one of us to determine how much time and energy we want to be concerned with fulfilling those expectations.

There are so many hours in a day and if we spend all our time responding and reacting to what everyone wants and expects from us, we don’t have any time left to do what it is that we truly desire.  If we don’t take the driver’s seat in our lives, someone else will.

Using the word “should” is completely disempowering. When using it we do not take any ownership of the decision we are making.  In fact, we completely circumvent the whole decision making process and act as if we don't have a choice at all. 

As an example, do you ever catch yourself saying “I should go to work”?  Do you want to go to work, or is someone forcing you to go there?  I believe we all “choose” to go to work.  Personally, I want to have the money to provide shelter for my family, food on my table, and the opportunity to have new experiences as a result of my creating a cash inflow into my life. Therefore, I “choose” to go to work.  

As soon as I say “I choose”, I feel stronger, much more capable and in control of my life.  I feel like I’ve taken responsibility for my decision, that it is in fact, my decision.

I have not used the word “should” since I started to notice what its implications were those 15 years ago.  I even found it challenging typing it for this article.  By stopping myself before, or as I was about to use it, I became aware of what I was doing in that moment of using the word.  Was I doing something to fit in, or was I trying to escape taking responsibility for my own decisions?  It lead to self discovery and an opportunity to question my motives in life.  How we do one thing, is how we do everything.

It may sound like something small, and maybe it will be for you, but I would absolutely recommend becoming aware of when you might use the word.  Stop yourself, and choose different words, words such as “choose, need, desire, want”, and see how you feel.  I suspect that your self-confidence will creep up just a little more. And couldn’t we all just a little more of that?