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.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. What a great article! I’m one of those people that will once in awhile say “i should do this” or “i should’ve done that.” Lately I’ve been trying to really renew my way of thinking and become an even more positive person and rid myself of negativity and negative energy. This is just another step in the right direction! Thanks so much for this Mr. Wavey :o)

  2. Hector Morales says:

    This reminded me of something a psych professor once told my class. He used the phrase “don’t should on me.” He meant that it wasn’t healthy to dictate to others what they should or shouldn’t be doing. It’s easy to forget that we should treat ourselves with the same courtesy.

  3. I don’t know if I should, but I could help that guy with the “Dunce” hat feel MUCH better about himself. ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Davey, you are gonna love this guy. He is blogging about his reentry into the world of fitness – http://jackattack.me/working-day-1/

  5. What an amazing post. I like the methods Diana uses in her training. It reminds me of what Barbara Marciniak once said. It went along the lines “When something does not turn out the way you wanted it to, avoid using the phrase ‘I tried’, instead use ‘I am creating'”. Using the phrase “I tried” implies negativity, which will only hurt you, “I am creating” implies you are in the process of doing something, be it staying healthy or finishing a project.

  6. christopher says:

    exactly why this word-should-is not part of my weight loss.im totally whats needed-and am taking positive steps to building an upper body-where i will feel much better-and i might add make me an object of true desire.plus-ive got a personal trainer-to help push me more.to boot-ive taken a one week vegetarian challenge-i complete that tomorrow.——–if i would use that word-should-i wouldnt be accomplishing all this.Thanx-DW-i so much appreciate this blog entry-youve made my day-and entire life.

  7. There are some excellent psych articles on this very topic!