Archive for the tag - language

I Don’t Believe in “Should.”

Years back, I was eating dinner with a gentleman much wiser than myself. We were talking about a difficult situation in his life and I asked, “Do you feel like you should have done anything differently?” He enjoyed a few moments of silence before he responded by saying, “I don’t use the word should.” I didn’t understand his answer until fairly recently.

The word should implies guilt. And that guilt inspires negative feelings of shame.

When we use should in reference to the past, it’s in an effort to change that which can’t be changed. For example, I might think to myself, “I shouldn’t have eaten that extra slice of cake.” But I did eat that extra slice of cake – and nothing can undo it. Believing that I should have done things differently only leads to guilt and shame. And such negative emotions do not lead to positive transformations or change. Instead, they’re self-defeating and can create something of a downward spiral.

When we use should in reference to the future, it’s laced with hopelessness, tension and despair. For example, I might say to a friend, “I really should do more yoga.” But such a statement isn’t really a goal or intention so much as it is a personal scolding. Saying that I should do something doesn’t motivate me to do it; instead, it encourages me to feel guilty for dropping the ball or for being lazy.

Just yesterday, I was reviewing a wonderful related article by Diane Petrella, a spiritual weight release coach and personal friend. In her article, Diane encourages readers to close their eyes and say, “I should lose weight.” Then, take a moment to feel the sensations generated by your body. Close your eyes again and say, “I want to lose weight.” Take another moment to feel how your body responds.

According to Diane, “Most people experience a sense of constriction or tension when they use the word “should” but when they say the word “want” they experience a sense of openness, expansion or lightness.” This simple change can make a powerful difference.

By removing should from our vernacular and replacing it with stronger and more positive words, we align ourselves with the transformative energy that helps us make healthier decisions and achieve our goals.

Give it a try.