We all sometimes succumb to ‘should’ thinking sometimes. It’s when you tell yourself that you should or shouldn’t do something. Even if you think doing this thing would be good for you, all that ‘should’ thinking may actually be a detriment to your health and happiness.
In terms of health and wellness, there are many things we tell ourselves that we should or shouldn’t be doing, such as:
- I should stop eating _____ (sugar, carbs, fast food, soda, etc.).
- I should lose weight.
- I should exercise.
- I should stop smoking.
- I should meditate.
- I should get more done around the house.
- I should be working.
- I shouldn’t take time away from my family to do something for me.
Why ‘Should’ Should Go Away
While most of these things may be helpful for you and beneficial to your health, there are many reasons that ‘should’ thinking undermines your efforts:
- It doesn’t necessarily have roots in what we want for ourselves. Often, the idea comes from societal pressure or others’ judgments. Sometimes it comes from when we judge ourselves in comparison to others. As a result, we may feel inadequate or even rebellious.
- It comes from wanting to do more and more, or to do it all. Women often do this to themselves in striving to be the perfect woman, mother, wife, friend, or leader. Trying to do it all is a good strategy for spreading yourself too thin and burning yourself out.
- It creates guilt, worry, and anxiety because it reinforces the idea that we’re not enough just being ourselves.
- It creates a sense of obligation, which can become a burden that drags you down every time you’re reminded of it.
- Then it creates disappointment and frustration when your goals do not come to fruition.
- It keeps you from being present. Instead you focus on what you did or didn’t do in the past and on what you should or shouldn’t do in the future.
- It puts the focus on what you’re not doing instead of all the things you are doing. Not recognizing your successes and achievements keeps you on quest to fulfill impossible standards.
- It doesn’t recognize the gap between where you are and where you want to be. So you don’t consider challenges or barriers and how to overcome them, which ultimately sets you up to fail.
What Should You Do Instead?
The next time you find yourself thinking about what you ‘should’ do, ask yourself what it really represents for you and where that pressure is coming from. Then get to the root of what you really ‘want’. You may find it is a good way to fulfill your desires. However, you may find that your ‘should’ won’t bring you what you want after all and you can finally let go of it.
To reinforce and clarify your own desires, you should may want to eliminate the words ‘I should’ from your vocabulary, replacing them with ‘I want to’, ‘I don’t want to’, or ‘I might enjoy’.