Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda...





Are the last words of a fool!

Said Beverley Knight, and we’d be inclined to agree.

It turns out, ‘should’ is one of the worst words we can ever use in a sentence, and yet still, it remains one of the most ubiquitous.

Rolling off the tongue in every other sentence, and stealthily sapping our confidence from the inside out in the process.

It might seem like a big accusation for such a little word, but if there is one thing that we shouldn’t underestimate (ironically)…it’s the negative impact of using ‘should' in the dialogue we have with ourselves, and others.

‘I should do more exercise’

‘I should eat more fruit’

‘I should do something about the job I hate’

All these should-containing statements are so non-specific, that they’re almost impossible to ever translate into any discernable action.

For example, what kind of exercise, what sort of fruit and when, and what sort of ‘something’ exactly?


Using ‘should’ to articulate what we think we ought to be going, not only undermines the value of what we actually 'want' to be doing, but it's vague nature and immeasurable markers for success make it a recipe for inaction, stagnancy and disempowerment if ever there was one!

This in mind, it’s no wonder that the use of this word is often referred to as 'shoulding all over ourselves.' It leaves us feeling deflated and unproductive, and surreptitiously erodes our self esteem.

As for the solution to breaking the shackles of 'should', a suggested starting point is to go on a self-imposed 'should detox' for a week. Keep a journal for every time you notice yourself saying it or wanting to say it, and edit each example to replace “should” with ‘will’ or ‘want.'

Similarly, replace abstract ideas with something specific. So rather than saying ‘I should eat more fruit, say ‘I will eat one apple with breakfast.’

The aim is not to relinquish responsibility of things that are important, but rather to establish a balance between 'should' and 'want', so an equal proportion of our behaviour is driven by the latter, as the former.

Simply flexing our atrophied ‘want’ muscles more often, and getting them back into shape, reminds us how important this aspect of our psychological anatomy is…and just how much we are potentially missing out on by letting ’should’ slip!!💩

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