“I know what I SHOULD do, but I don’t!”
Listening to people’s words is really fascinating.
If you ever hear “I should…”, then here is the conclusion you can make – they won’t.
“Should” automatically implies that they aren’t going to do it. If they were going to do it they would use some other phrase like “I will…” or “when I…”.
“Should” = won’t happen.
Now before you get defensive, and say “Yes, but…” let me add one piece.
There is a REALLY good reason that you won’t do it, and that is that most of the things that you think you “should” do, you really shouldn’t.
Let me give you 2 examples.
First, think about a time when you didn’t stand up for yourself and you thought “I should have really given them a mouthful!”
Well, no you shouldn’t have.
This “should” comes up as an over-reaction to the initial under-reaction. I’ve had people tell me what they “should” have done, and it included things that would have landed them in police custody. It was a really good thing that they didn’t act upon that “should”.
This might seem too obvious an example of when “should” is wrong, but check for a moment. How many other times have you said “I should do X”, when X is really an overreaction to the original situation?
Second, doing the things you “know you should”, because someone else said so.
If someone tells you what to do, even if they are parents, teachers, friends or doctors, they are not always right. Sometimes in fact they are completely wrong. They can be absolutely, completely sure of something, and still be wrong. Certainly is not truth.
You might try what they suggest and find that it doesn’t work for you, but you might still be left with this sense that you “should” be doing what they say.
This “should” is not a signal to keep stubbornly trying to do something. It is a signal to reassess the original statement, maybe add some qualifiers, or even throw the whole idea away completely.
Either way, when you hear yourself say “should”, realize this means you won’t, and you might be better off anyway.
These two self-reflections alone may help you get rid of a whole lot of “should”s in your life, and a whole lot of guilt as well.
-Dr Martin Russell