There is one pesky little word many of us use unconsciously but adding a whole lot of unnecessary stress, frustration, anger, upset, depression, and anxiety to our lives. It’s honestly a lot for one little word. However, even just removing this one word from your daily vocabulary will allow you to learn how to reduce your anxiety, get rid of stress, and help bring in more healthy, positive, and helpful thinking in your life!
Therefore, in today’s post, I am talking about what this one, unpleasant word is and what it does to us. And then how we can start getting rid of this word and removing it from our vocabulary altogether.
So what is this one little word that’s creating so much chaos for us?
The word is…should.
You may be thinking to yourself, “what? The word “should” isn’t that big of a deal or a horribly bad word!”
However, today I am going to explain to you why this word and how this word negatively affects us and creates a lot of unnecessary upset for a lot of us.
1. We “should on ourselves”
The first way that the word “should” creates all kinds of no good is when we “should” on ourselves. Yes, it sounds funny, but many of us do “should on ourselves.” So what exactly happens with that or what does that look like?
When I say things to myself like, “I should be good at everything,” or “I should be further and more successful in my life,” or “I should be able to handle this,” or “I should be able to feel comfortable in social situations, or “I should be liked by everyone,” “I should be able to control all of my emotions,” etc. And so on and so forth. Then, a lot of people who have these thoughts tend to think further and go: “If I can’t then I’m no good, I’m a loser, I’m broken, I’m not worthy, I’m a failure, etc.”
You can see that when “should on ourselves” and when we consistently use the word should, it can make us feel anxious, overwhelmed, and increase stress levels. This is because we believe that we should be able to handle things that life throws at us. Or for many of us who suffer from social anxiety. We get down on ourselves and beat ourselves up thinking “I should be able to feel comfortable right now.”
This can also cause us to feel depressed. We say things to ourselves like “I should be happy right now.” Or “I should be able to think positively.” But it’s hard. Which in result leads us to “should on ourselves” and cause an uproar of anxiety, guilt, sadness, stress, and hopelessness. Not to mention, the word “should” can really impact our self-esteem as well. We start to feel really bad about ourselves because of all these “shoulds” that we’ve placed on ourselves.
Related Post: “How To Quiet Your Inner Critic”
2. We “should on other people”
Not only do we tend to “should on ourselves” but many of us unconsciously “should on other people” as well. We say things like “people should know what I need, or “people should be able to read my mind.” Or, “people should be kinder or more thoughtful,” or “people should treat me the way I want them to treat me.” The list goes on.
And yes, it would be incredible if people could be more respectful, treat others nicely, knew what others need, and if people could read minds. Yes, it would be great! However, should they? Who honestly says that they “should”? It would be nice, but we tell ourselves they should be this. Whatever “this” is to you. For example, you may think to yourself, “gosh, they should know this it’s common sense, or “they should be able to sense that I’m having a rough a day.” What we think is normal, or what we think healthy, or what we think is a good way to act…not everyone thinks the same way.
However, when we cling to this “should” and hold it against other people, it leads to a lot of resentment, anger, frustration, and even loneliness. This is because when we “should on other people” we get so upset and resentful that we tend to block them out of our lives and feel like we don’t need them.
This will reduce a lot of your stress, resentment, and anger towards other people.
We get very angry towards people when we feel like they should act a certain way and they should be what we think they should be, but they’re not. That’s how you feel they should be in your mind. But people can’t read our minds. It’s important to consider other people’s perspectives as well in situations and not get so hostile and angry when they don’t react or say what you were wanting. Not to mention, the word “should“ creates a lot of harm and necessary judgment towards others well.
3. We “should on life”
Another way that we should, is that we “should on life.” When we’re feeling down and out or we’re going through something we get even more upset when we think, “life should be easier than this, why is it so difficult?!” Or, “my life should be better than this,” or “good things should happen for me, bad things shouldn’t happen to me I’m a good person.” We “should on life” and we get so worked up on how life should be. This can lead to great feelings of hopelessness, procrastination, and it can even lead to addiction.
When we keep thinking that life should be fair, easy, happy, and good all the time, and we just can’t stand it if it’s not, then several people tend to turn to some kind of substance. Not everyone, but many people do in order to fill that void, to numb that feeling of despair, and to not have to deal with the fact that life is sometimes hard and unfair. Life sometimes doesn’t give us what we want or even what we probably do deserve. Therefore, it leads to even more resentment, frustration, hopelessness, and anxiety when we “should on life.”
The truth is, life isn’t easy. For anyone. For some of us, yes, life has given us the short end of the stick in some situations and have been through very horrible things and things that aren’t fair. Those feelings are completely valid! It’s completely valid to think that this “shouldn’t have happened to me,” or “it wasn’t fair or good that I had to go through that.” However, if we continuously stay stuck in that feeling resentment or that despair that something shouldn’t have happened, try altering your mindset to thinking, “okay, what do I do with that now.”
How can I take this experience and turn it into something positive? For myself or for someone else.
It’s important to remember that the word “should” is an illusion
There are plenty of reasons to be wary of the word should, but this might be the most important one – should doesn’t exist. There’s no such thing as a single way we should live our life or do our job. There are results we hope to achieve and goals we want to attain, but there are infinite ways to do so.
There’s no one path “should” be following. So let’s stop acting and speaking as if there is. Or at least let’s try.
But what can we do and how do we deal with this?
First of all, you’re definitely going to start noticing every time you are tempted to use the word “should.” Or every time the word “should” comes out of your mouth. You’re going find yourself thinking, “I just should on this, or I just should on myself, or should on someone else, or should on life, or whatever it is. Then, try to stop yourself, hold back that word, and then simply replace the word “should” with something else.
- I would like it if…
- I would prefer it if…
- It would be nice if…
Fill in the blank with whatever the situation is that you’re going through or find yourself in.
For me, I would prefer it if I could go into any social situation and feel 100% comfortable and never feel anxious. Of course, I would prefer it! That’s a fair or reasonable way to think. But, perhaps that’s not where I’m at right now or what I can do right now. And that’s okay! I’m working on it! However, telling myself that I “should be able to” is really not helping my situation or the reality of my life at this moment in time.
But until something changes or something happens, or the world completely changes – that’s just not the way that it is. And that’s okay.
How can I be more mindful of using the word “should?”
To become more mindful of the word “should,” be sure to stop yourself when you hear yourself using it, remove it from your vocabulary, and replace it with another word. Then, notice the difference and how you feel afterward.
No good comes from the word “should.” Honestly, it’s a word rooted in negativity, judgment, guilt, and pressure. More often than not, it leads us down paths that won’t take us where we want to go.
I’ve made a conscious effort to stop using the word and believe the less we use it or allow ourselves to be influenced by it, the better off we’ll be!
What about you?
Do you find yourself using the word “should” a lot?
Let me know in the comments below! Also, let me know if you decided to replace the word “should” from your vocabulary and the difference it made on your mindset and your life. I would love to hear your thoughts and I really hope this post helps to reduce your anxiety and stress around things that “should” be happening in your life at this moment.
You’re exactly where you are meant to be in this moment! 💫