Stop Should-ing On Yourself

Stop Should-ing on yourself

A good friend once told me to “Stop Should-ing on myself”.

It was brilliant advice and I thought I would share it with you today, World mental Health Day.

 

I had been feeling glum and complaining: “Oh I should do this, I shouldn’t have done that”, to which my friend replied, in her own laconic way:

“Stop Should-ing on yourself”.

It made so much sense. So much of suffering is caused by beliefs such as:

 

I should be this…

I should be that…

I should do this…

I should do that…

I should be more…

I should be less…

I should have…

I should feel…

I should, I should, I should…

Plus an equal list of “I shouldn’ts” to match.

 

‘Should’ is defined as: used to indicate obligation, duty or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.

 

So what we are doing when we ‘Should’ on ourselves is piling on self-criticism; probably with a good old dollop of guilt as well. ‘Should’ is not so much a call to action but a means of berating oneself. ‘Should’ can make a person feel rotten, especially in terms mental health and well-being

An example being: “I should feel happy but I don’t” Where we have both criticism and guilt in one simple sentence.

So what could we use instead of ‘should’?

The first challenge is being aware of the times when you are ‘Should-ing’ on yourself and dwelling on self-criticism. (I like to recall my friend’s voice when I find myself falling into that trap).

The second is acknowledging the present situation for what it is, warts and all. View it as dispassionately as possible, like an impartial witness (this is a practice in mindfulness). Remove ‘should’ from that thought along with its associated guilt and shame. So, in the example of “I should feel happy but I don’t” can be replaced with: “I am not happy at the moment but that’s OK, this feeling will pass”

The third is to replace ‘Should’ with ‘I Can…’ Transform thoughts away from negative self-criticism towards what is achievable and positive. This is a way of opening up possibilities rather than shutting down in the shame of “I should”.

 

I hope that you find this useful. Wishing you all a good World Mental Health Day and remember:

“Stop Should-ing on yourself” .