My brain used to be in the habit of thinking a lot of should-sentences. I should be ......, I should want to......., I shouldn't............It left me feeling horrible about myself and my life.
Why are should-sentences thoughts so destructive?
They are destructive to us because when we think them we are being self-critical and telling ourselves that we are not good enough the way we are.
I bet the last time you thought a should-sentence it didn't feel great.
Right now we are experiencing a new balance of time with ourselves and our families. I bet a lot of should or shouldn't sentences are popping up in your brain.
I was talking to one of my friends (who is an amazing mother) and she was telling me she was feeling guilty because she felt like she should want to be making homemade pizza with her kids each night and having a family game night.
This came up in our conversation because I was telling her that I was feeling guilty because I was thinking I should be feeling more misery right now. I see so much suffering and misery in the world and the happiness and peace I was feeling with all my kids and husband at home was causing my brain to be thinking, I should be feeling guilt for feeling this much peace.
Even though I knew better, I was still letting the should-sentences steal my joy.
Of course, this will be different for everyone, but “should -sentences” usually result in us not showing up the way we want to and/or not enjoying the experience.
Most of the time when we are thinking shoulds, it is based on some story we are telling our brain of how we are doing it wrong.
Shoulds are an active form of self-criticism. We are telling our brain that we are not good enough where we are at.
We are being critical and/our rejecting ourselves. This can create anxiety and stress in our minds and bodies.
I want you to become aware of your shoulds, the oughts, must and try to replace them with more encouraging thoughts. Stop letting these sentences steal your joy.
How we can change our “Shoulds”:
1. Focus on WHY
Focus on the WHY you are thinking the SHOULD. If you take my friend's example of pizza/game night. I'm sure she wants to enjoy time with her family and her thinking it should be her responsibility to make it happen was taking her joy away.
Set an alarm in your brain. Every time you think “should” or “shouldn’t,” the alarm goes off. Stop and evaluate. Do you WANT to do this? And why?
If you can find a reason to want to do it, create that emotion, and then do it. When you want to do it, you’ll enjoy the experience so much more because there will be no feeling of resentment.
2. Focus on HOW
Instead of having a should sentence, I want you to be thinking creatively of the HOW. Stop the thought I should be doing ...... and I want you to think HOW can I ........ without feeling the obligation of the should. How can I enjoy the evening with my family where I'm happy and they are happy.
3. Be CURIOUS - Focus on loving yourself where you are at.
I used to think that I shouldn’t feel judgment and resentment. Every time I was feeling this way I would tell myself I was doing it wrong. I would try to quickly switch my thoughts so those feelings would go away but that just produced more judgment of myself and really didn't lessen the original judgment.
Now I try to stay curious ...accept my thoughts and instead of telling myself “I shouldn’t be feeling/thinking _____,” I take a step back and say, “Okay, I’m feeling/thinking _____. I wonder why that’s happening now?” I try to realize what is going on with me with compassion.
Removing the word “should” from your vocabulary will take time, patience, and practice. But it is possible, and it comes with great rewards. Replacing “should” with more helpful dialogue will lead to a kinder relationship with yourself, and better relationships with the people around you too.
Once you stop your should-sentences, you will be amazed at how much less you are thinking thoughts of what others should or shouldn't be doing.
There isn’t a set of rules that say how we’re supposed to show up in the world. We get to choose the story we tell our brain.
Choose the rules and the story that causes the emotions you want to feel in your life.
My challenge for you is to notice how many times you think a should-sentence. Notice how you feel when you think this thought and then realize you have a choice. Then make your choice and like the reason.
You will be amazed at how just doing this simple challenge can increase your joy.
If you need help cleaning out and questioning your personal should-sentences, book a Free introductory call with me, I have become an expert on questioning the shoulds and it has brought so much more joy in your life.