Do you know how things will sometimes come up repeatedly in a short period of time? I had that happen recently and found interesting correlations.

So, what kept coming up? Well, I’ve had multiple conversations where people are saying that they should do this or they should do that.  In that same conversation, they’ll also talk about feeling stressed because they feel they have to do something even if it’s not something that they like or desire to do. 

In other words this is an unrealistic expectation that is felt but not really welcomed. Should adds increased stress and pressure on yourself that you don’t have to carry around if you don’t want to do so.

In addition to all of these conversation, I also came across this same topic while I was reading a book of short essays and there was an essay about how often we ‘should’ ourselves.  This topic has come up so many times in the past week, that I just felt the need to write about it.

I ‘should’ myself too!

I get it.  I’ve done it too.  I’ve told myself that I should do something and felt that pressure to perform. I’ve been actively working to avoid it for the past few years after I became aware of putting this unnecessary stress on myself several years ago. I have to say that I do it a lot less now than I used to. 

It feels great to get rid of that extra, unnecessary stress!

Every once in awhile a ‘should’ will still sneak into my vocabulary.  Usually when it does, I catch myself and ask why I felt the need to make this statement that way.  Often, it was just a slip of the tongue but sometimes there’s a bit of guilt behind it.  I might feel like I’m being judged for not doing something like cooking healthy meals or exercising more consistently, but usually I’ve put that pressure on myself. 

No one else has done that to me.

It can be a simple change of mindset

In the essay that I read this week, the author, Kate Manahan, suggested changing ‘I should’ to ‘I get to’.  It’s a simple mindset shift.  It changes the activity or thought from something that you feel you are pressured to do (even if the pressure is only coming from yourself), into something that you have a choice about.  It goes from a negative connotation to a positive connotation. 

Instead of I should fix healthy meals, it’s I get to cook healthy meals.  It becomes a bit of a gift that I have the chance to do this service for myself.

I really like this approach. 

In the past, I’ve simply tried to avoid using the word should because it doesn’t make me feel very good when I use it.  With this simple shift to ‘I get to…’  I can make even more of a mindset shift by thinking in a positive manner that works better for me.

What would happen for you if you took ‘should’ out of your day? 

First you have to be aware how often you use that word.  Then when you catch yourself saying it, try the ‘I get to’ approach.  Substitute the phrase and notice if your mindset changes about the activity.  When you do, also notice how you body reacts.  Maybe you decide that you really don’t want to do this activity and simply decide to ignore the thought.  Or maybe, you decide that really this is a chance to do something for someone else or perhaps even yourself without the guilt being added on top.

When exchange ‘I should’, for ‘I get to’, I feel lighter and more eager to do a task.  I recognize that I do have choices and that how I spend my time can be a gift and not an obligation to be performed under duress.

It can be your choice

Just like so many things in your life, your mindset about a situation will help determine how you feel about it.  Change ‘should’ to ‘I get to’ and change your mindset.   You can choose the words that come out of your mouth for your own ears to hear.   So, why not use words that give your mindset a boost in a more positive direction?

Simple shifts like this can have big impacts on your life. I’m always working with my clients to make little tweaks or shifts that seem small at first but when combined can really start to shift your life. I often remind them that that don’t have to make a complete change all at once. You don’t have to either. You can make a small shift like this. Notice how it changes your life and then reevaluate and shift again as you’re ready.

It always comes back to you and what you’re ready and able to do. You can stop ‘shoulding’ yourself and stop setting those unrealistic expectations in the process. Instead you can choose if it’s something that you really want to do and then use different words that take the pressure off of yourself. After all, life is can be crazy enough without adding extra, unnecessary pressure on yourself.

If you’d like to make changes in your life but you aren’t sure how to get to your goals without ‘shoulding’ on yourself, then lets chat. Together, we can make small shifts in your life in order to help you reach a larger goal. Schedule a free chat with me and let’s talk about how yoga therapy can help you reach those goals.

And remember, it’s never too late to live healthier and happier!

Becky is a Yoga Therapist & has been teaching yoga since 2006. She loves to match people with a yoga practice that helps them to feel better every day & believes that there is a yoga practice for everyone. Click here to sign up for her mailing list & get all of the important news & tips first!


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