Shoulds are a trap that binds us in confusion

Shoulds add confusion to life and keep you from thriving. You can spot them in well-meaning self-help books, inner thoughts, and opinions of others—and they are sneaky. Recently as I was walking, they snuck into my thoughts  and sounded like this: “I should walk faster and get more exercise, if I’m really committed to getting healthy.”

Hearing that voice, I immediately felt that I needed to work harder. Before I knew it, I was criticizing myself. I pressured myself to walk faster. Then my idea of having a fun walk disappeared. I followed the advice of the should, sweated so much that I needed a shower and was late to work. What a trap I was in with thoughts hijacked and trapped by a should. I didn’t know how to toss out the shoulds.

Replace a should and thrive

As I stood there, I remembered that the nature of shoulds is to trap, hinder, and oppress. Besides that, they don’t care about one’s inner wisdom but prefer the opinions of others. So, how did I get out of that trap? Well, I used a 4-step process that has helped me:

  • Start with non-judgmental awareness of when should floats into your thoughts.
  • Take a few deep breaths. Then sense your whole self is, not just your mind. Sense if you are feeling tense, anxious, frustrated, confused, etc….
  • Give permission for the should to be like wind and blow through your mind, body, emotions.
  • And finally, replace the should with a COULD

When you replace a should with a could, you open the door to choices. For example, I replaced my should thought with: I am committed to getting healthy, and could walk faster, but is it the best option now? That gave me space to consider what choice I wanted to make instead of feeling that I should make. Remember that should constricts whereas could expands and helps you thrive.

Powerful change helps you thrive

One finds freedom and ease when living with the coulds of life. Sometimes replacing and using a different word is an easy process. But sometimes, it touches upon deeper issues. It’s an easier process to do with someone who can help you discover what exactly you are tossing out and what exactly do you want to replace it with.

As a whole person coach, I help people focus and live by coulds so they thrive in life. Let me know if I can help you.