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How To Stop ‘Shoulding’ All Over Yourself

freedom & flow Sep 11, 2018

I can still hear my good friend Patty’s voice from a conversation years ago. ‘Shoulda, coulda, woulda’, she stated, with a bit of  snark in her voice.

We were discussing a lot at the time, but the overarching theme was shedding guilt of expectations or obligation. Basically, we both wanted to stop ‘shoulding’ all over ourselves, and letting other people do it to us too.

The shame of the 'shoulds' is very real and very powerful and not in a good way. Let’s talk about what this means and what you can do instead so you can be incredibly empowered.

First, let’s discuss why believing ‘you should’ do anything is a problem.

I‘ve spent a lot of mental energy on allowing the shoulds to eff with me. You?

The belief we “should” do or be something is rooted in other people’s expectations — not our own.

When we think we should do something it’s because our family, friends, religion or society has convinced us it’s the right thing to do. And our brains end up hardwired to think it's true.

But the 'shoulds' are often not something we actually WANT to do.

If it was, we’d refer to it as something we want to do instead of something we believe we should do.

[Holy shit, did you know it’s okay to do what you actually WANT? And that you can trust yourself and believe in yourself? Novel concept, right?]

The truth is, any thought or feeling of ‘should’ comes from guilt. It’s a judgement and also an illusion.

When you say you should do something, it’s another way of expressing that whatever you have chosen  or aren’t choosing to do isn’t good enough. Should, belittles your choice. It’s critical of what you chose or plan to choose or didn’t choose, which creates pressure and breeds insecurity.

Each “should” you pile on yourself, adds another unpaid debt of obligation you now have to take on. Ick, can you feel the pressure in that?

You are creating the energy of owing something to yourself, something you “ought” to be doing but you aren’t and to top it off, it denotes that you are very guilty.

How To Stop 'Shoulding' All Over Yourself

1. Pay attention to your thoughts.

If you hear yourself, shoulding... STOP and notice. Think about why you feel you 'should' and ask if it's true or necessary. You are the thinker of your thoughts and you also can shift your thoughts. Everything starts with your thoughts, you likely think you should because you've essentially been programmed or hardwired by whatever belief systems you grew up around and were most immersed in.

2. Pay attention to your words.

Once you notice your thoughts, you'll be better able to shift the words that actually come out of your mouth and not only impact you but others around you. Your kids for example, eh hem, little ears (lol). Your words have great power. If you hear yourself using negative or limiting words, you not only can but GET TO change them. Shoulding is a way to make yourself or others wrong. It's a way we try to control things that we simply cannot and don't need to.

3. Shift your words to more effective choices and create affirmations.

You can practice positive self-talk during your daily morning meditation or journal time. Or you can leave notes on your bathroom mirror to read out loud as you put on your make-up or do your hair. Any time, negative self-talk or the shoulding starts you can turn it around into a helpful positive statement. Why? Because your thoughts become words, your words become actions and your actions become beliefs. You have to do this on repeat to retrain your brain and create a healthy habit and to stop your daily should-fest.

For ex: 'You are not as smart as so and so'; could become the affirmation; 'I am a smart and capable person and I can effectively help others and handle anything that comes my way!'

How much more empowering is that statement than the alternative? And how much more confident and empowered will you be when you shift to owning your value!

4. Forgive and love yourself anyway

This is a big one. You and I, we all are just learning. We will make mistakes, but we get to learn from them. Just acknowledge that, forgive yourself completely -don't beat yourself up that won't get anyone anywhere.

Love yourself fiercely no matter what! (If this one is hard for you, please read my post; 'How To Release Emotions So You Can Increase Your Joy!')

If you are looking for support with a mentor and coach to empower you further than you can on  your own, I invite you to book a breakthrough session with me. A breakthrough session is designed to provide you with clarity, confidence and effective tools to move beyond the challenges you are facing (in your health or life) and a simple action plan to follow so you can start creating a life you love.

Now, I'd love to hear from you! In the comments below, let me know if you are a 'shoulder' and this post gave you some food for thought.

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