And why we need to catch ourselves saying it.
Friends invited me out for dinner. Weeks before, we’d originally had plans for them to head over for brunch.
“I’m making homemade waffles and smoothies,” I’d said.
Only the day of the brunch found me flying to Florida to see my father in the ICU.
Last night, at our dinner, I found the following words percolating in my head:
“I should be able to have them over by now. Why am I so tired? So overwhelmed?”
I didn’t say these words aloud. Keeping them silent only made a looming sense of failure inside of me fester. With my unspoken self-recriminations yakking away, I vocalized the following to my friends:
“You can come over for brunch next weekend. Let’s do that!”
The Most Dangerous Word
Did you catch the word yet? Whether merely thought (as I had) or spoken, the word we need to be vigilant of is SHOULD.
Should arrives with verbal tentacles that carry guilt and shame.
Should is an emotional lever that heaps blame and obligation onto our psychological shoulders.
When we think from a place of should, we are subconsciously telling our psyches we aren’t enough.
Should is the barbed wire of self-compassion, thwarting our ability to listen to our intuition.
Planting New Seeds
Should is a weed of a word, surreptitiously preventing our emotional garden from flourishing.
We can remove the “shoulds” in our garden and replace them with words that nourish like need and want:
Of course I’m overwhelmed and exhausted. It’s not even a month since my father left this Earth. I want to make a brunch for my dear friends but now is not the right time for me. I need time: time to linger in my pajamas longer, time to curl up with a good book, time for long walks that go nowhere, time to devour a sleeve of Oreos.
By yanking out the albatross of SHOULD and replacing it with the seeds of WANT and NEED, I feel lighter and flooded with self-compassion.
Where Does Should Emerge in Your Life?
Where does the lurking word of obligation sneak up in your life? It may be something seemingly innocuous as:
“I should floss my teeth every day.”
But the statement, however genuine, lingers with the fresh scent of guilt. Instead, we can say:
“I want to floss my teeth every day.”
“I need to floss my teeth every day.”
I challenge you to observe the words you use, catching yourself when you use or think the word should. The word might seem innocuous, but it has the potential to subtly cause a sense of obligation, shame, guilt, or blame.
When we say:
“I need to…”
there’s a sense of responsibility.
Should takes that responsibility and serves up an unsolicited side of guilt.
What do you want to do? What do you need to do?
Empowering questions for an empowered soul.