Stop "Shoulding" on Yourself
By Lisa Martin
Have you ever counted how many times a day you say the word should?
For most people I know should is one of the most commonly used words in
their vocabulary. I should call so-and-so. I really should go to
the gym. I should take some more courses. I should redecorate my
living room. Shoulds show up all the time. And most of us aren’t even
aware that they are there.
How can that be? When shoulds have been ruling your life for years
they are almost invisible. Like the electricity that runs your home,
shoulds can power your life. But while electricity enables you to live
more comfortably; shoulds compromise your ability to live joyfully.
Shoulds get in the way. They stop you from doing what you really
want --- what is important to you. Living your life based on shoulds
takes you away from your true purpose. It can make you feel miserable and out
It takes effort to change “shoulding” behavior. For me what really made the
difference was choosing not to go the Spa (I know, you’re wondering how can
going to the Spa possibly be a should?) Let me explain. I was
exhausted. I’d been on the road conducting coaching workshops. With my last
workshop complete, I headed back to my hotel. It featured a guest spa area
complete with gym, sauna, whirlpool, steam bath and hot stone treatments. I
remember going to view the spa. Its beauty captivated me. I thought I really
should come down here and take advantage of these complimentary
facilities. It was like lightning had struck. As soon as the word should
appeared I knew that I didn’t really want to go to the spa. I wanted to take a
bath and relax in my room. And that’s what I did. It was a completely freeing
If you find yourself saying you should do something. Stop and assess
the situation. Ask yourself:
Why do I think I should do this? (habit, obligation, to please someone
What are the consequences if I don’t do it?
What do I really want to do?
Do I feel safer pursuing a should instead of a want?
These questions will help you make conscious choices. In some cases the
choice may be to follow a should…for personal reasons or because the
consequences are too great not to. But over time you will start saying no
to your shoulds and yes to your passions.
True joy comes when you do what you're most passionate about not what you
think you should do. Your passions are the things you love to
do, causes you believe in, and experiences you enjoy. When you are passionate
about what you do, success comes easily. You exude energy and enthusiasm when
you follow your passions. And the word enthusiasm derives from the Latin en+
theos, which means “the god within.” Living your passions frees your spirit.
It’s important to ask yourself how safe or satisfying it is spending your
time doing something that doesn’t reflect what you are truly passionate about.
When you follow your heart, you discover what is truly nourishing to your soul
and an abundant, joyful life is just around the corner.
Make Your Move
Start paying attention to when and how often you say the word should.
Anytime you find yourself doing something because you feel you should,
I invite you to explore why you are doing it. I challenge you to muster the
courage to say no to the should and replace it with a passion. And for
fun… banish the word should from your vocabulary for one week.
About the author: Lisa Martin is an executive and
personal coach specializing in work/life balance for women in business. She is
dedicated to supporting women who want successful and balanced lives.
http://www.successandbalance.com Sign up for her complimentary Taking Care
of Mom Program and her monthly Success & Balance e-Newsletter
http://www.successandbalance.com/coach/html/enews.htm If you want to
experience coaching, Lisa offers a complimentary 30-minute session.
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