Personal Development

Remove this One Word From Your Vocabulary and It Will Change Your Life

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"You wanna fly, you got to give up the sh*t that weighs you down." "• Toni Morrison

There's a reason slavery was officially abolished from North America in 1865: It's inhumane, it's unjust, it's cruel and quite frankly it's just wrong in all senses of the word.

And although slavery is no longer a tolerated part of our culture, many of us still keep ourselves emotionally and mentally bound and oppressed with rules, regulations, and absolutes about the way things must or ought to be both on the inside and outside of ourselves.

Happy woman relaxing at the beach. Summer vacations conceptThe problem is slavery doesn't really work for human beings. No one actually wants their freedom taken away and their lives ruled by someone else.

But many of us still trick ourselves into believing we don't have the freedom to make our own conscious choices, and we do this by using, and using, and using again one simple little word with big powers to oppress.

And this word is the very common should.

I should be able to do everything well.

I should exercise more.

I should be liked by everyone.

I should take better care of my health.

I should be a better listener.

I should be more generous.

"¦ and the shoulding goes on and on.

Sure, maybe I should and maybe I shouldn't "“ who's to say? But what does shoulding on ourselves actually accomplish? It's not a word that inspires a call to action, and it's certainly not motivating in the least.   It doesn't imply any sort of choice, so why do we keep it as an actively used word in our vocabulary?

What, I ask you, is the point of the ever present and WAY overused should? Why do we insist on shoulding on ourselves and what purpose does it serve other than to make us feel inadequate, unproductive, inefficient, unmotivated, guilty, depressed, discouraged and anxious?

I'm going to go ahead and say there really is no point and thus the word is useless.

But there is hope!! There is always hope.

By simply removing that word from our vocabulary all together, we will free ourselves into a whole new way of thinking, feeling and doing, or not doing "“ but hey, the point is, we have the choice, right?

We are not slaves, and we don't deserve to treat ourselves as slaves.

So if we're going to remove it altogether and start feeling like the free individuals we actually are, the easiest way to do it is to catch ourselves when the should rears its nasty head, stop right there, and just replace that one little word with a more freedom inspired and empowering word or short phrase.

Here are a few you can choose from:


Would Like


Would be nice if

I would prefer it if I could do everything well"¦ but I am a perfectly normal human being with limits so that might not always be possible.

I could exercise more, but I haven't decided yet if I am ready to make that commitment.

It would be nice if everyone liked me, but the truth is not everyone will, just as I won't like everyone I meet, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I would like to take better care of my health and I'm going to look into changes I can start making.

It would be nice if I were a better listener, and maybe I'll start working on it, and maybe I won't.

I could be more generous, and I think I will find a way to be so.

By simply removing and replacing should with one of the above choices we all of a sudden have authority over our lives again.

It's really not a matter of what we should or shouldn't do, think, or feel. It's what we chose to do, think or feel.

Think about it this way, if you take the above suggestions to heart and put them into action you will notice a significant decrease in your anxiety, your depression, your guilt, your anger, and your frustration.

Without all of those shoulds making a big oppressive mess, you will free yourself up to experience much more love, joy, and connection with both yourself and others.

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About the author

Julia Kristina Mah

Julia holds a Master's Degree in Counselling Psychology, and is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who runs a vibrant private practice in Downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. She has been helping men and women feel better and notice positive and healthy changes in their lives for several years and absolutely loves what she does and is grateful to be doing this work. Following closely behind her passion for clinical counselling is her fondness of facilitating workshops and giving group presentations. Julia also really enjoys writing about what she is researching, learning, and experiencing as a therapist and aims to do so in an approachable and somewhat light-hearted, yet thoughtful manner. Read more from Julia on her blog