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  • Writer's pictureYurika Vu

“Should” & “Shouldn't” - either way we suffer

I don’t know about you, but especially in the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of “should” and “shouldn’t” - ing myself. 

“I shouldn’t have watched so much TV” 

“I shouldn’t have said that” 

“I shouldn’t have wasted so much time on this” 

I said all these things- and guess what? All of it happened. 

“I should go for a run and exercise”

“I should stop this negative self talk” 

“I should wake up earlier so I can get more things done in the day” 

I totally said all these things- and guess what? None of it happened. 

...sound familiar? We are constantly “should-ing” or “shouldn’t-ing” ourselves and either way, we suffer. Nothing changes.But I have 2 words that can completely change this around...

See, I believe that words are powerful and they have the power to change how we experience things. 

1) Eliminate the word “shouldn’t”.Just remove the word all together. 

  • “I shouldn’t have watched so much TV” ➡ “I watched so much TV”

  • “I shouldn’t have said that” ➡ “I said that”

  • “I shouldn’t have wasted time on this” ➡ “I wasted time on this” 

  • “That shouldn’t have happened” ➡ “That happened"

Removing “shouldn’t” makes the action/event completely neutral. It moves it from something“negative” to just fact, neither good or bad, just what is. From that neutral place, it allows you to move to a sense of responsibility. (If it’s something you shouldn’t have done, ask yourself “what did I learn?”) When you keep “shouldn’t-ing yourself, events, or actions it keeps us stuck in the past. We can’t change the past (surprise!) and keeps you in victim mentality, or self blame. A more important question you can ask yourself is “What could I do instead?” Learn, reflect and move forward.“What will I do in the future?” 

2) Replace “should” with “choose to”.Watch how these words shift how you experience these phrases.

  • “I should go for a run and exercise”  ➡  “I choose to go for a run and exercise”

  • “I should stop this negative self talk”  ➡ “I choose to stop this negative self talk” 

  • “I should wake up earlier so I can get more things done”  ➡ I choose to wake up earlier so I can get more things done.” 

  • “I should be more patient”  ➡ “I choose to be more patient”. 

Can you feel that shift? Replacing “should” with “choose to”- all a sudden you are empowered. You are choosing to do something. You get a choice, not just a “I should” and then do nothing about it. “I choose to” allows you to take ownership and responsibility. It sets an intention. And from that place, you have so much power!

My usual phrase in the morning is “I should meditate and exercise”. But tomorrow, I am going to say “I choose to meditate and exercise!” and I’m excited about it!


PS: What is your default “should” that you say all the time? Try changing it to “choose to” and reply to this email to let me know what you are choosing instead! 

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