Why The Word “Should” Should Go The EFF Away



What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” – Buddha

How many times a day do you use the word “should”? You probably have no idea, right?

I don’t know about you, but I used to say it a LOT. (I bet you do as well.)

It’s pervasive in our daily lives. To the point where we don’t even think about how (or how often) we’re using it. We use it to motivate ourselves, keep ourselves in check, and to express a wide range of feelings (mostly bad ones) like frustration, guilt, and regret.
This word is EVERYWHERE!
At first glance, “should” feels like a positive, motivating word, but the more I think about it, the more I  realize just how horrible this word really is.
The word honestly does more harm than good, and I think the word should (oops!) be banished from our vocab for good! After reading this, you’ll feel the same way as I do.
Should should (oopps again!) go away FOR-EV-ER!!!

It’s Just a Word, Though…

So, why am I making such a big deal over a word? As we all know, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

well played

Well, if there were a word that could hurt you, it’s this one. Why? Because “should” is an inherently negative word – it makes us feel inadequate when we use it. It’s evil…

dr evil

Okay, maybe not evil, but it sure as hell is negative though!

Click To Tweet

Don’t believe me? Ask yourself, when I say “should”, do I:

  • Feel more enthusiastic about doing the thing I didn’t?
  • Feel more determined to follow through?
  • Or do I feel worse?

…probably #3, right?

sad walk

Well, there’s good reason for that.

When you say you “should” do something, it means you’re not doing something that needs to be done. Okay, so that last sentence wasn’t exactly telling you anything new, but the truth is, telling yourself what you “should” do reinforces the idea that you’re not enough just being yourself.

  • “I should lose weight.”
  • “I should exercise.”
  • “I should eat healthier.”
  • “I should…”

As well-meaning as it might be, you’re just reinforcing the negative, and rather than motivating yourself with encouragement, you’re using a lack of self-acceptance. This leads to feelings of guilt, anxiety, frustration, and self-hatred.

The word makes you basically feel the same way as you felt when your parents lectured you about all the things they thought you should be doing differently. (And those were good times, right?)

i should do something

The word focuses your attention on what you did or didn’t do as well as on what you should or shouldn’t do in the future. You end up dwelling on your shortcomings and failings, and you’re less likely to look for and identify solutions and next steps.

“Should” is basically a guilt trip and the word sucks!

Should devalues you. Click To Tweet

What Should I Do Instead?

Instead of telling yourself I “should” be doing more of something, try to focus on why you want to do that particular thing. For example, instead of saying “I should go do yoga,” remind yourself of why you want to do yoga:

  1. “It makes me feel great.”
  2. “I enjoy feeling myself relax when I do yoga.”
  3. “I feel a sense of self-connection when I connect my body and my breathing in yoga.”

Take five minutes and think about your reasons and write them down. Shoot for 3 reasons. This will help you get to the root of what you really want out of your “should”.

(Seriously, take 5 minutes for this. It’s really important. We’ll wait here.)

this is why


Okay, great!

It’s important to have a clear motivation because it’s a long, sometimes hard journey, and you need to continuously remind yourself why you’re doing this.

When you tell yourself what you “should” do, you’re ignoring what you’re actually doing or what you “could” be doing. Both of these words: “could” and “are” make for a much better internal dialogue because they direct your thoughts to what “is” rather than what “should” be.

Of course, figuring out your motivation doesn’t eliminate the word from your vocabulary. For that, I recommend using “I will…” instead.

For example,”I will…do 5 push ups before I do anything else” or “I will spend 5 minutes reading a book this afternoon.”

I like the “I will” phrase because it helps keep me thinking about solutions rather than regrets.

i will instead of i should

Try out these tactics and you may find that your ‘shoulds’ don’t bring you what you want after all.


To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are.” ~Sven Goran Eriksson


It’s a small word, but it has a pretty big impact on the way we think about ourselves. If you’re like me, you probably experience a few throughout the day. Though it doesn’t seem like a big thing, the word is actually casting a spell on you.

harry potter spell

Think about how this word affects your mood. Think about how this word makes you feel about yourself.

What have your shoulds accomplish for you?

Nothing worthwhile, that’s what.

We all sometimes succumb to ‘should’ thinking sometimes.  Although I used to do it myself for a variety of reasons, multiple times a day, I realized that telling myself I should be doing more or being more wasn’t actually helping me do more or be more.

All I got out of this word was the feeling and belief that I wasn’t enough as I was. It’s just a detriment to your health and happiness. Don’t get tangled in its web.

Should is a pointless word.  Click To Tweet

The word “should” is so commonplace that the thought of eliminating it seems not only unnecessary, but impossible. And I won’t try to deny that it’s not going to be hard to drop the word. It’ll take time, patience, and practice. But it’s possible, and it comes with great rewards – for yourself and for those around you.

If you begin to keep track of the times you use the word, and replace it with other words, you’ll be more likely to cut down on the “shoulds” in your life.

As someone who spent his entire life “should-ing” himself, I can tell you that although it may seem like a small detail, you’ll be amazed by just how damaging one word can be on your life. I believe that if we all used “should” a little less, we’d all be a little more productive and happy.
This word is best left out of your everyday language. Instead of beating yourself up for what you should have done, focus on what you have the power to change.

Stop saying I should, start saying I will!

Thanks for Reading

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