Y'all, there are some words in the English language I absolutely despise and at the very top of the list is “should” (cringe). Just six letters and my blood is boiling. Do you know what I mean? Think of the last time you used the word “should”.
Some common “should”-s:
I should lose 10 pounds.
I should be in a relationship.
I should be happier.
I should be doing better at work.
I should clean out my closet.
The word “should” implies a standard that you are falling short of. It implies there is a fault within yourself that prevents you from achieving your goal. (Ouch, right?) “Should” can (and often does) create a sense of shame. “Should” suggests minimizing your own wants and needs in order to appease someone else’s or achieve a social expectation.
Yes, we all have obligations and responsibilities. I’m not denying those-- If you say, “Alexa, I should do my taxes”, I’m going to agree because I don’t want you to go to jail for tax evasion. But “should” often indicates so much more than a sense of necessity.
A single word can convey such discontent which easily becomes a part of our personal narrative of how we view ourselves.
So what if we replaced “should” with “wish” or “hope” or “want”?
I want to lose 10 pounds.
I hope to be in a relationship.
I want to be happier.
I wish I was doing better at work.
I want to clean out my closet.
Such a small shift can create an entirely different emotional experience. Instead of using language that is comparing yourself to some standard, use language that is more reflective (and accepting!) of where you are. Being able to recognize that maybe you’re not where you want to be right now, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck there forever. Choose language that is empowering and encouraging of change, instead of language that perpetuates a cycle of self-loathing and shame.
Language plays a huge role in our relationships with others and with ourselves. I challenge you today to be mindful of the language you use with yourself, and to be aware of when and where you use “should”. When that word pops up, ask yourself what you are wanting and if you can use non-shaming language to express it.