Eliminating the Shoulds

"I should do this” or “I should have done x."...Have you ever found yourself saying this? These are the dreaded SHOULDS. The SHOULDS are often based upon unrealistic expectations, as well as the perceived or explicitly communicated expectations of others. Although they may have a rightful place in our lives, usually this place is locked away in a closet somewhere along with its guilty-by-association partner, GUILT.

I’ve done it—shoulded myself into guilt: I should have spent more time...(helping, giving, doing for others). SHOULD and GUILT hang out together, lying in wait in our consciousness and pouncing on us quickly with an invisible whacking stick (yes, whacking, not walking). We beat ourselves up with it.

So next time you find yourself thinking about what you think you should have done, stop, listen and be gentle with yourself (You really should stop feeling guilty). Instead, tell yourself that next time you’ll do things differently. And you will. Now put that stick away and go out and do what you should be doing! 


  1. Another great post, Kelly!
    Why is it that when I'm down "SHOULD" is the first thing that pops in my mind :(
    I guess it's human nature. I'm learning to avoid all the "shoulds" that associate my past regrets and I'm trying to be more proactive.

  2. Yes, Claudia, it seems that when we feel most vulnerable, it can be easy to defer to "should." I like what you say, however, about being proactive. I am now learning to be present to myself, asking myself first "What do I need to do to take care of myself at this moment when I am spinning around a should?" Maybe it is resting or eating something healthy or reaching out. Thank you for your comment.


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