Words have power. We know this. There are a lot of words that we are conscious about not using in certain circumstances, words that we are well aware are hurtful, and there are some words that we use by habit without the awareness of what kind of impact they can have. Today I'm going to talk about one of those words. 

I'm talking about the word "SHOULD". 
How many times a day do you think you use this word?

The word should expresses obligation or expectation, often in a negative way when criticizing someone's actions or lack there of (including your own). It's a word that has a lot n common with guilt & shame, and the inability to make decisions. 

For years I've been working to eradicate this word from my vocabulary. It's a word that I have been accustomed to using without a thought for most of my life. I still catch myself using it, and whenever i do, I take the opportunity to correct myself and rephrase. 

Why is the word 'should' on my 'do not use' list? In essence it's a shame based word, and I think that we could all use a lot less shame in this world, both self imposed, imposed on others, and from others. 

Think about how & when you use the word should.........
I should have handled that differently. 
I should have tried harder. 
I should have gone to a yoga class today. 
I shouldn't have said that. 
I shouldn't have eaten that brownie. 
I should have exercised. 

Think about how & when you use the word should to talk to others, or when others talk to you.....
You should have done this instead.
You should see a therapist.
You should come to my party.
You should read this book. 
You should do ...(whatever)....

How are any of those statements helpful? They're not. They ALL have a tone of guilt, shame, or obligation to them. When talking to yourself, you are essentially saying you did something wrong. When talking to someone else, you are telling them that they did something wrong, or you know better what they should be doing with their life, and/or imposing a feeling of guilt or obligation.  

So, when you catch yourself using the word should, ask yourself what you really mean? 
Is there obligation, expectation, guilt or shame attached to it? 

THEN rephrase. 

"I should go to a yoga class today"
Could be changed from a guilty feeling, shaming statement to a clear decision that you own.
"I'm going to a yoga class today"
"I'm not going to a yoga class today."

"I should have handled that differently"
Could be changed from a shaming statement to a wisdom statement.
"Next time a situation arrises like this, I'll know how to handle it differently."

"You should come to my party tonight."
Could be changed from a statement of obligation to a warm invitation. 
"I'm having a party tonight, and I'd love to have you there if you don't have plans."

"I should really go to the party I was invited to tonight."
Could be changed from a a guilty, obligation statement to one of self empowerment: 
"I have other priorities for myself tonight, so I'm not going to make it, and I'm okay with that." 

"You should read this book."
Could be changed from a 'I know what's good for you' statement to a 'sharing of knowledge statement'.
"I loved this book, and gained so much from it, maybe you would too."

"You should go see a therapist"
Could be changed from a demeaning 'You need some help to get your shit together' statement to a helpful & supportive statement.
"Have you ever considered seeing a therapist?"

Don't those corrections feel SO much better?!?!

So, here is my challenge to you for the week: Pay attention. Bring awareness to how often you hear yourself say this word. When you hear it come out of your mouth, ask yourself what you really mean by it, then rephrase in a way that feels more positive.

Words have power. Take that power & use it for the positive!

Let's all stop "shoulding" on ourselves & the people around us!!!  :) 

Wishing you a lovely rest of your week!