Personal Development

Why we ‘should’ all over ourselves and how to stop

Pam Thomas
Written by Pam Thomas
  • I should be thinner.
  • I should forgive and forget.
  • I should just get over it.
  • I should be grateful for the things I have.
  • I should be more productive.
  • I should eat less and exercise more.
  • I should be happier.

I should. I should. I should. BLECH!!!

Should-ing all over ourselves seems to be pandemic and it stinks! So why do we do it? What drives us to do something that applies pressure, creates crappy feelings, and is a total energy drain?

I have a few ideas based on my own experience with “shoulding.”

The Why’s

While there are many reasons we “should” all over ourselves, here are my top reasons:

  • Fear of what others will think.
  • Fear that we may disappoint or piss someone off.
  • We feel guilty if we say “no” instead of “yes” to some else’s wants or needs.
  • Feelings of not being good enough.
  • We feel the need to prove our value so we resort to doing the “shoulds”.
  • We don’t trust in our own abilities to get things done OR to make the right decisions so we listen to what others think we “should” do.
  • We adopt them from someone else.
  • “Shoulds” serve as a great 2×4 to beat the shit out of ourselves with. (As if covering ourselves in “shoulds” isn’t enough?)
  • We feel our wants are selfish so a “should” must be self-less, right?
  • We need to be seen as busy.
  • We compare ourselves to what others do or what they have.

Do any of these sound familiar? What’s your biggest should?

If you aren’t sure, I want to invite you to pay close attention to your language over the next week or so. If you find yourself saying “should”, check in as to why the “shoulds” are showing up.

What Happens When We STINK of “Shoulds”

The stark reality is this, when we “should” all over ourselves…

Our needs get squished, trampled on, or moved to the bottom of the list. And sometimes they go unmet.

  • We subconsciously tell ourselves that what we want is not important.
  • We run the risk of creating resentment.
  • We miss out on fun.
  • We run out of energy. Not only are we covered in “should”, but we are fried and crispy.
  • We become explosive, reactionary, “should”-covered people.
  • We perpetuate the feelings of “not good enough”.
  • We aren’t doing things that fit who we are.
  • We run the risk of not being our most authentic selves.

So what can we do to avoid “should-ing” all over ourselves?

How To Flush the “Shoulds” Once and For All

1.    As mentioned previously, it’s important to create awareness by paying attention to what we say. When we hear ourselves “should-ing” make it a point to do Number 2 and that is…

2.    Start asking ourselves questions, for example, “Is this something I want to do?” and if the answer is “No!” then ask something along the lines of “What’s driving me to do this?” and then “What do I choose/want to do?” When we create awareness, we not only create options to choose from, we take back our personal power from the “shoulds.”

3.    Practice the art of self-care. It truly helps us to come from a more powerful place and less from a place of not enough. Not to mention, we have more energy to ward off the “should” when we’re not feeling fried and crispy.

4.    Work with someone who can help us to overcome those feelings of not good enough. (A coach or therapist.) Someone that can support us in recognizing that “shoulds” are not self-less. They are self-destructive

5.    Try not to compare ourselves with what others are doing or what they have.

6.    Remember that we have no control over what others think so we can’t allow something we have no control over to throw us into a pile of “should”.

7.    Check in with the guilt. Dr. Brené Brown says…”The difference between shame and guilt is the difference between ‘I am bad’ and ‘I did something bad’”.  The only “bad” is allowing ourselves to get covered in “should” in the first place. Besides, how would we feel if we found out that someone said “yes” to us out of guilt?

We can stop this pandemic of “shoulding” and not because we should, but because we want to! Until next time here’s to stopping the “should-ing” and standing in our power of “I want/will”.

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About the author

Pam Thomas

Pam Thomas

Pam Thomas, M.S., PCC, RMT  is a fear squasher, limiting belief buster, "not good enough" survivor (a.k.a certified coach and intuitive counselor). For more information on the services she provides, please visit her site or connect with her on Facebook