When we use the word should we are either:
1. passing judgement on ourselves, or
2. not accepting reality.
The first use of should implies that we believe that we aren’t doing-or being-good enough, and that if we just take action and do what we should be doing, everything would be fine. While at first glance this might seem like a form of self-motivation, what usually happens is that we feel guilty, which then leads to a lack of motivation.
The second use-not accepting reality-puts our focus and effort on what is outside of our control. Basically, we are whining.
Neither of these scenarios are helpful.
If you want to stop shoulding on yourself and shift your mindset from a negative, self-critical, and blaming focus to an encouraging and motivating mindset, then you need to recognize and reframe the shoulds.
The first step is to recognize when you are shoulding on yourself. This word is so common in our everyday language, that you probably don’t even notice it. Your first task is to start to notice when you hear the word should-especially if you are saying it to or about yourself!
The second step is to dig a little deeper when you notice that you are shoulding on yourself.
If the should is the self-judgmental sort, like “I should exercise more,” dig a little deeper.
Ask yourself, “Why is doing that important to me?” When you reconnect the should activity with an inner purpose, it shifts your mindset from feeling guilty about why you haven’t done that, to instead motivating you to start doing that.
If the should is the not accepting reality sort, like “I should be at a horse show this weekend, but the show got cancelled because of COVID”, dig a little deeper and recognize the emotions and thoughts behind the should. Take a few minutes to be aware of and state your feelings and thoughts about the situation. Change the “I should” to “I am feeling/thinking _______ about the situation.”
Sometimes we just need to express our thoughts/feelings. Then, after you have identified the thoughts and feelings behind the should, reframe it by finding something good about the situation, something that is an action you can take or something that you have control over. For example, it could be that now you and your horse have more time to prepare before the next show. If you can’t find anything good about the situation, instead find something that you are grateful for today (even something as simple as expressing gratitude for your morning cup of coffee overlooking the pasture as your horses graze).
Stop Shoulding On Yourself. Face Your Fears, Live Your Dreams, and Get Gritty!
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